Monday, June 9, 2008

University of Virginia

Rotunda at University of Virginia

Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, is just a short drive from Waynesboro. We went over there Sunday afternoon to stroll through the Museum of Art and to visit the original grounds of the University. This was a good time to go as it is between academic sessions and there were very few students on campus. We were even able to get a parking space close to where we wanted to be.
A Pavilion

One of the Pavilions
Another Pavilion
Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. It was originally called Central College and was located on a portion of what had been President James Monroe’s first farm. Jefferson designed what he called the “Academical Village”. This village was laid out in a rectangle shape with the Rotunda building at one end and faculty and student housing on either side of a large grassy lawn. Its first cornerstone was laid in 1817.
The Dome Room served as the library

The Rotunda served as classrooms and meeting spaces for faculty and students. The third floor of the Rotunda, or the Dome Room, was the library. The Pavilions, ten in all, were faculty housing. They are each of a different architectural design and are located at intervals between student rooms. This is consistent with Jefferson’s belief that a strong interaction between faculty and student created a superior learning environment. Today, student and faculty still live together on the lawn and the Rotunda is used much as Jefferson had dreamed. Rooms on the Lawn are highly sought after by students even though they lack some of our modern day conveniences, such as indoor plumbing. Generally, they are awarded to fourth-year students who have “made a significant contribution to University life”.
Student Rooms between the Pavilions
Student Rooms
The walkway beside the Rotunda

Jefferson also designed decorative spaces for gardens by using curved walls. Whether they were for vegetable gardens or flower gardens is unclear.

This original area of Jefferson’s design is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Rotunda from the lawn

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