University of Virginia Architecture Exhibit Extended; Examines 'Village to Grounds' from 1825 to Present

June 29, 2010 — The exhibit "From Village to Grounds: Architecture After Jefferson at the University of Virginia," has been extended for another month.

Featured at Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, the exhibit explores the solutions to the architectural challenges posed by adding to the Academical Village – from 19th-century picturesque ideals to the classicism of McKim, Mead & White and the modern architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The exhibition, which now runs through July 31, is part of the University's celebration of the centennial of Carr's Hill, the president's residence and the last of the buildings designed for the University by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White.

"From Village to Grounds" is organized in a series of chronological sections, ranging from the additions made in 1825 for the University's 123 original enrollees to today's South Lawn Project, a contemporary response to the needs of a growing institution with more than 21,000 students.

The exhibition is "the most comprehensive look ever at our built environment," said Mercy Quintos Procaccini, the library's exhibits coordinator, who worked with the curatorial team to assemble original blueprints, floor plans, photographs and architectural fragments to represent the various periods.

"From Village to Grounds" presents chapters of an evolving effort to respond to – and in some cases, react against – Jefferson's design. In the romantic picturesque period (1826 to 1895), the University Chapel and Varsity Hall (originally an infirmary called "the Retreat for Sick Students") were constructed without reference to the style or location of the Academical Village.

After the 1895 Rotunda fire, attention returned to the Academical Village as the prominent New York firm of McKim, Mead & White was called upon to "restore" the Rotunda and to close off the Lawn with a new series of academic buildings – Cabell, Cocke and Rouss halls.

Architect Sanford White and his firm re-imagined the Rotunda and responded to the University's more contemporary needs, including those for a dining hall (Garrett Hall) and a home for the University's new president (Carr's Hill). The 19th-century master architect managed both to embellish Carr's Hill with Greek capitals – a personal touch – and to respect elsewhere the Jeffersonian vision.

The 1895 Rotunda fire, the arrival of cars, the post-war influx of students and the admission of female undergraduates, the shift from intimate classrooms to lecture halls and labs – the architecture in "From Village to Grounds" reflects all these changes.

Visitors will "see with new eyes a campus that they may now take for granted," Quintos Procaccini said.

The exhibit is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday. It is closed Sundays and July 5.

— By Matt Kelly