Monthly Archive for April, 2004

UVA School of Architecture

Hello All,
I was in Charlottesville last week and thought you might be interested in reading about some of the goings on at the A-School. There's much to report.
Building Addition
This is the first of several that are planned and adds faculty offices, conference rooms, and jury space (“presentation” in the lingo now used, apparently “jury” had too inquisitive a feel to it), all on the south side of the building. The design is remarkable in terms of its use of technology and its role in starting a linkage to a planned connection to the Bayly Museum, which the School hopes to expand into at some point.
Design Development is complete and CDs are now underway with bidding planned for the fall. The School has raised a fair amount of the money needed with another $1.8 million to go.
Curricular Changes
The School merged the Architecture and Landscape Architecture departments last year. That has continued to work very well from the faculty and students' perspective and has been well regarded by peer institutions who see this as a competitive advantage for the school. This is helping strengthen both fields' understanding of the other and is informing the work of each at a higher level than under the old structure.
The School now offers a joint PhD between the College's Art History Department and our own Architectural History Department.
The School has offered four symposia over the last year and continues with its lecture series. Student interest and involvement has been very strong with both.
Financial Update
8% of UVa's funds as a whole come from the Commonwealth as compared to 90% for the A-School. The 2003 reduction in state support cost the school 5% of its budget, a huge price given our limited resources.
The School's endowment has now grown of $10 million. We were at $300k just a few years ago! On the other hand, Harvard's G.S.D. is —steady now— $270 million!
UVa will be launching a Capital Campaign in 2005. One of its goals will be to raise $75 million for the school. Of that, $25 million would go to the building addition, curricular development, fellowships, and professorships. The remaining $50 million is envisioned as coming in large part from a single donor interested in making a transformative gift to the school, primarily in the support of the endowment and fellowships.
Karen Van Lengen has completed her first five-year appointment as Dean and will continue in that role. She has brought an incredible energy to her position and a real focus to strengthening the School. She's also intent on making sure that the School is better connected to the University and better able to compete for scarce resources. She has a real presence in the School with both faculty and students. The next time you are in Charlottesville, stop in and say hello. She would welcome the visit.
One of the areas that has suffered as a result of the 2003, and 2002, budget cuts is the School's ability to keep in touch with alumni. You may remember the Colonnade newsletter. That publication has had to go by the wayside for the time being.
There are two sources you can check for updated info until the School is in a position to send material again. First, the School has a web site. It's undergoing a major transformation that will be on-line in the early fall, and it promises to be much stronger than what you will find today. Second, Colonnade lives… on-line as a part of the School's web site. The School is actively soliciting material for this page. If you have something to send, whether news or work related, they'll take it.
Finally, if you see that I have sent this to the incorrect address for one of our classmates, please forward it on them. If you could copy me on the forwarding, I'll make sure to use the correct address with future missives.
Hope all is well.
Paul Weinschenk

Architectural competition update: Nurnberg Hospital

My friend Peter in Munich just took second prize in the competion to design the Klinikum N├╝rnberg Nord: Neubau Ost.


Here are some renderings of my friend Peter's entry that took Honorable Mention in the M-Campus technology center competition in Munich

Conference Calls

Our learning design regularly incorporates breakouts into synchronous sessions and this week we got a reminder that if the technology isn't transparent then it's like having a wall in the middle of your classroom.
For the past two years we've been using Premiere Conferenceing to handle the conference calls and provide the synchronous platform (VisionCast, their branded version of PlaceWare now LiveMeeting) for one of our programs. Their execution after a little roughness in the first session or two has been virtually flawless to the point of anticipating what the presenter and participants are going to do next. Moreover, their customer relations have been fantastic. Our conference manager, Matthew Fleming, couldn't be better.
Well, this year our client asked if we could use MCI instead because they had an enterprise-wide contract. What a disaster. It took them five minutes to get the 27 participants into 9 breakout groups. Premiere takes about 30 seconds. The MCI operator never let us know when we were in a private call or when the participants could hear us. On at least one occasion the particpants were brought back from their breakout session and were joined to the presenters private call without any warning. The operators couldn't get participant lines open in a reasonable amount of time which dramatically slowed the interaction.
Needless to say, Premiere is back on board to do the rest of the sessions.

Threaded Discussion versus Weblog

In the course I'm managing currently for MIT and Merrill Lynch I'm starting to run up against the difficulties of using a weblog to handle class discussion. We had to choose what should be more prominent – comments from the participants or the posts from the Learning Director and Teaching Assistant. We're using a 3-column layout – static documents like participant biographies and syllabus and schedules on the left, dynamic lists of recent posts and comments on the right. In the middle we started with the five most recent posts with the plan of excerpting and linking to the comments when we wantto be sure they get read. We're also emailing out the posts by cutting and pasting into a nicely designed Outlook template instead of the bare bones MT notification.
Now that the discussion has gotten rolling, we want to give more prominence to the comments themselves. So how do we do that without pushing the most recent post too low on the page? I just start excerpting the most recent comment and putting at the top of the center column. I have to do this manually becuase MT has no CommentExcerpt tag that works and the comments themselves are too long to include in their entirety. This has cuased problems also in the dynamic lists of comments. On the main page I can list the most recent comments on the whole weblog. But on an individual archive page and I can only list the most recent comments for that post.
So my as yet unempirical observations show there seems to be a core group who have caught on to the weblog and are checking it frequently. Then there's a large group who rely on the emails.
The dilemma comes in how the thread of the discussion gets divided across multiple posts. We could do subsequent posts in a particular thread as comments but it would then seem redundant to quote myself in the digest post that gets emailed to everyone.

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