Why did you choose the University of Virginia?
Interested in going to an in-state college, I ultimately decided that UVA was the best fit for me. I loved UVA's history and its lasting traditions; I was excited to become part of both. Additionally, I felt drawn to Charlottesville, having been charmed by the Downtown Mall, the Corner and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. After visiting UVA a few times I could envision myself walking around grounds, relaxing in the amphitheater or reading in the gardens. Besides, how could I, a budding Architectural History major, resist the beauty and history of the Academical Village? I think I really fell in love with the Classicism of the Lawn.
How did you become interested in Architectural History?
Upon arriving at UVA, I had no idea that Architectural History even existed as a major. I had a great interest in art history, however, and took a few classes. I began to realize that my favorite art history classes were the ones focusing on architecture. Also at this time, I connected my love of old homes and historic sites to a possible future in historic preservation; I started exploring the Architecture School's website and ultimately discovered the Architectural History department. I decided to transfer from the College of Arts and Sciences into the Architecture School in the middle of my second year and declare a major in Architectural History.
What do you like best about Charlottesville?
I have recently declared Charlottesville my favorite city in Virginia; there is really nothing I don't like about it. It is a very balanced city. It is a small town, very community oriented, but with a large variety of interesting shops, restaurants, and concert venues. You can live on and near grounds, close to class and the corner while quickly and easily finding great and easily accessible hiking trails to enjoy on the weekends. It is big enough to always discover something new and small enough to never be afraid to explore. As a student I have always felt very welcomed by the rest of the Charlottesville community; it is a college town, but has so much more to offer. I also love the many coffee shops, the local radio stations and of course, Monticello.
What is the most exciting project you have worked on?
One of the neatest classes I have taken was a class based on the historic preservation of the Lawn. It was taught by the University's historic preservation team, men and women who worked for the Office of the Architect. The goal of the class was to debate possible solutions for the restoration of the Rotunda; each group was assigned a different period of significance, I debated that the 1970s restoration was, in fact, the most successful. At the end of the class, we were invited to a colloquium that the Office of the Architect organized to actually debate this question with professional preservationists and well established Architectural Historians. During the semester, we also learned a lot of hands on preservation skills: we went to the University wood shop and we learned how to lay bricks and mortar. Also, our instructors took us to buildings undergoing renovations around grounds including Garret Hall and Pavilion IX. I have literally crawled around in the attic of Pavilion IX-- how many students can say that? I found the entire class, from the colloquium to the intense exploration of the Academical village, very thrilling.
What have you learned that surprised you?
During first and second year, I would sit in lecture classes and attempt to write down and learn everything that my professors said, but would get easily lost, only really understanding about two thirds of what they were lecturing on. Then, during third year, I was in a 20th Century American Architectural history class and was able to follow the entire lecture. Not just the information we had been assigned readings on, but all of it. It was then I understood that I had actually been learning something all along. That was pretty shocking. Also, did you know that Bernini’s Baldacchino in St. Peter’s Basilica was made from bronze taken from the ceiling of the Pantheon? I love that fact.