Architecture Crime

A new multifamily is under construction on School Street and its architect and its developer should be indicted for the crimes of infliction of ugliness, greed, and contempt. What an insult to the neighbors, not to mention their property values. Watertown has no design review requirement for building permits. Here is a strong argument for instituting one.

Watertown Open Space

The stretch of School Street between Mt. Auburn and Maplewood Street is lined with beautiful houses – Victorians, Colonials and other styles all built between 1790 and 1927. There have been three houses built since then. No. 286, a multifamily built in 1955; No. 281, a little brick ranch built in 1956; and No. 263 a nondescript Colonial built in 1965.

The building nearing completion next to #330-332 is by far the worst incursion on this street. It is crammed into a lot that leaves almost no outdoor space to speak of with its back jammed up against an old stone wall that lines the access road to the Oakley Country Club. It has no character and no detail, looking like something that you might find (unfortunately) with about 50 more like it in a project where there’s no urban context to address.

But the worst crime by far is that it DOES NOT EVEN FACE THE STREET!! It’s the only one on the street that doesn’t (I couldn’t find a house anywhere in the neighborhood that turns its side to the street.) and it seems to say that what’s been done here for over 200 years is irrelevant.

I created a little slide show so you can see for yourself. It’s a walk down the west side and then back up the east side of the street. After you look, ask yourself, and then ask the town how this
building was approved.

267 – 331 School Street (click on the slide icon)

Update 5/19/05: Mari Ryan reported at the East End Neighbors meeting May 16 on a meeting with Nancy Scott (Zoning Department) about the new building on School Street. She felt the town was very responsive about all the construction related violations but the building despite its bad fit in the lot does meet all zoning requirements. Neighbors who live close by are concerned that the single driveway will force residents to park on the street, which could calm traffic, but if it is too close to the corner may reduce sight lines and be more dangerous. Oakley Country Club has torn down the stone wall that the back doors looked out on and have replaced it with a high wooden face, exaggerating the building’s bad fit.

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


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