While the two-hundredth graduating class from the University doesn’t graduate until 2019, that certainly hasn’t stopped the celebration of the UVA’s bicentennial. Friday, October 6, 2017, marked the two-hundred years since the first brick was laid in the making of Jefferson’s Academical Village and the beginning of two-years worth of celebration.
In a stir of excitement, the entire university prepared for the opening of the bicentennial festivities, beginning with the Bicentennial Launch Celebration, October 5-7, 2017. With a series of performances featuring UVA students, faculty and alumni along with special guests Andra Day, Leslie Odom Jr. and the Goo Goo Dolls, this kick-off event was nothing short of a marvel.
That in mind, the School of Architecture, better known as the A-School, had no small presence in the bicentennial launch. In addition to the pavilion installed on the South Lawn, the A-School celebrated the beginnings of the bicentennial in the private setting of Pavilion VI courtesy of Dean Ila Berman and Prof. Mona El Khafif.
I was fortunate enough to attend this event on Friday evening with both my parents and Karan, who some of you may know as the Editor-in-Chief of this publication you happen to be reading. Located in Garden VI behind the pavilion under a series of strung lights, this event brought together students, faculty, alumni and board members alike to celebrate both the University and the School of Architecture. As I introduced my parents to my professors and met a variety of Foundation and Young Alumni board members, I began to realize just how far the creativity reaches outside of Campbell Hall’s walls.
The next night, I attended the Dean’s Forum, which recognizes leaders in and supporters of the School of Architecture. Held twenty-five minutes outside of Charlottesville at the gracious donation of A-School supporters, three layers of mountains served as the backdrop to this celebratory event. The estate itself was architectural enough for the entire event: with a series of ionic columns lining the facades of the three buildings and the pathways connecting them. Yes, I felt as though my architectural history knowledge, thank you first-year, was truly coming full circle as we drove up to the event.
As one of five undergraduate architecture students at the event, I was met with a variety of surprised responses to my presence. While I’m not sure if all my professors were as excited as I was to see them on a Saturday night, I slowly felt as though I was becoming more and more a part of the A-School community. Now some of you may be thinking how could I possibly become more involved, but instead of wondering through studio every thirty minutes, I was wondering through a sea of architecture professionals, alumni and supporters.
After cocktail hour, I may have been the only one under twenty-one at the event, we sat down to dinner. To my surprise, we were seated adjacent to the stage; I later learned that my invite had come from one of the hosts of this year’s Dean’s Forum. Thanks Nat, I tried my hardest to behave.
Following dinner, a series of board members, alumni and our dean, hence the Dean’s Forum, spoke. Beginning with an introduction and welcome from the chair of the Foundation Board, a fascinating woman in her own right, the night featured the winner of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award: Adam Yarinsky of ARO. While Adam is not only an inspiration to us all, he also reminds us of the longevity of the school. During his speech, he referenced a number of his professors from when he was a student here that many of us know as our professors today. Lucia, I’m definitely looking at you.
Now, when people say we have an amazing dean, you need to believe them. Dean Berman closed out the evening with her speech. I could go on and on about her ideas and such, but instead I want to highlight what stood out to me most. She asked of everyone attending to bring one more person to the 30th Dean’s Forum next year. If we can continue to grow as a community, we will have even more opportunities to both increase our reach and share our creativity. Rather than continuing in the bubble we all have grown to love, each of us can help to expand and celebrate the success of Campbell Hall.
I learned this weekend that I want nothing more than to win the Distinguished Alumni Award someday. But, I also learned that we, as students, will never and should never leave the A-School legacy behind us.
We don’t often have time to reflect on our time spent here, whether that here is the third-floor studio or Campbell 153 or perhaps even the University as a whole. The events of the bicentennial launch weekend reminded me, and hopefully my friends, family and professors, why we are here. The camaraderie and knowledge that fill Campbell Hall is sometimes lost in a mix of deadlines or sleep deprivation, but when we take a moment to remember why it is we are here and what is we are doing, I know that I am truly a part of the A-school footprint.
Seeing the vast majority of my professors and advisors outside of the studio reminded me just how lucky we all are to be here. As architecture students, we have the unique opportunity to become part of the legacy of the both the University and the School of Architecture. While we continue to commemorate two-hundred years of Jefferson’s Academical Village, our community can start to celebrate the centennial of the School of Architecture.
In 2019, the A-School will have enrolled students for one-hundred years, with each and every one of us a part of this legacy.