The University of Virginia School of Architecture held its fifth annual Vortex design workshop in January 2016. An article published in UVA Today provides an overview of this year's program:
Can Charlottesville’s Preston Avenue, a commercial corridor scarred by contentious urban renewal policies, become a more attractive home for businesses and residents?
Over the past two weeks, students in the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture have grappled with that question during the school’s fifth annual Vortex design workshop. Unique among American schools of design, the workshop brings together more than 300 undergraduate and graduate students and 30 faculty members across the school’s four disciplines – architecture, landscape architecture, urban and environmental planning and architectural history – to tackle a single area of focus within the local community.
This year, they were split into teams to consider how Preston Avenue – a half-mile stretch of four-lane, divided roadway connecting downtown Charlottesville with the more residential Venable neighborhood – could offer more appealing public spaces, become more pedestrian-friendly, improve public housing availlability and create a better atmosphere for businesses and residents alike.
“One of the highlights of Vortex over the last five years is the opportunity for students and faculty to hear multiple and often conflicting perspectives on a site from members of the community,” Architecture Dean Elizabeth Meyer, pictured, told students at the Vortex kickoff meeting. “Preston Avenue might look like a relatively inconsequential suburban place, but we can see issues of power, class and race all connected to issues of topography.”
Overall strategies were developed by Hrvoje Ngiric, a principal leader of njiric + arhiteckti in Zagreb, Croatia, and this year’s visiting Jacquelin T. Robertson Professor, who was charged with leading the Vortex workshop.