Aug. 16, 2007 -- The University of Virginia School of Architecture has named associate professor of architecture Craig Barton to serve as chairman of the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. The three-year appointment, announced by Architecture School Dean Karen Van Lengen, will begin this fall.
Barton will direct the department in meeting goals in three areas. First, the department’s programs should follow the mandates of a public university by broadly educating students, faculty and the public concerning the significant role of design in the public realm. “We have a unique responsibility as a public institution … to inform both our own students and fellow colleagues about the myth that design is a luxury. Good design is essential to the life and times of all citizens at every scale,” he said.
Secondly, Barton will have the department’s faculty “look aggressively” at the serious challenges facing the state, region and nation in producing affordable, sustainable and aesthetically pleasing design in the public realm. Barton will support the faculty to follow in the footsteps of ongoing research/design/build projects at the school such as ecoMOD, modular and sustainable affordable housing; Learning Barge, a sustainable floating classroom on the Elizabeth River; and reCOVER, temporary shelter for displaced persons around the world.
Finally, the department and school as a whole, according to Barton, should model how the design disciplines reflect culture and celebrate diversity. Among the schools at the University, architecture is unique in its ratios of minority and women faculty. As chairman, Barton aims to “build a bridge between the academic community, alumni, the [larger] community and high school students,” to encourage and support U.Va. students who will be the designers of the future. The undergraduate architecture program does not have any specific entry requirements beyond those of the College of Arts & Sciences, as the curriculum is designed to train any admitted student who is interested to become a designer and, in time, a leader in his or her community.
"I am so pleased to be able to work with Craig Barton as the new Chair of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. I have known Craig for many years and I believe that this appointment is a timely opportunity for his leadership of the department and especially as an advocate of our school's theme of 'Urgent Matters', ...projects in the public realm that promote aesthetic and ecologically sophisticated environments for the future." Van Lengen said.
In addition to his role as chairman, Barton is director of the Urban Studies Program and is a Faculty Fellow at the University’s Center of the Study of Local Knowledge. Through his practice, research, and teaching, Barton investigates issues of cultural and historical preservation and their interpretation through architectural and urban design. Much of his architectural practice focuses on assisting African-American communities to preserve and interpret their significant cultural resources and to utilize them to stimulate community development. He is the editor of the anthology, "Sites of Memory: Perspectives on Architecture and Race" (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001), and he has contributed essays and projects to a number of publications. Barton is a founding principal in the architectural firm RBGC Associates, whose recent projects include restoring and repurposing historic buildings historically occupied by African-Americans. Barton earned a master of architecture degree from Columbia University, a bachelor of fine arts degree from The School of Visual Arts and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University. He has held academic posts at Columbia University, the City University of New York, and Harvard University, and joined U.Va.’s faculty in 1995.