introduction

“If the historian sees his work simply as an attempt to draw the truth from documents, then what he or she is searching for, in reality, is security; one works in this way in order to avoid the challenge which the past presents. Danger and chance are the most important aspects of the historian’s work. It is the chance to shape an idea, to project yourself into an interpretation…Paradoxically, to accept the chance of making a mistake, a fundamental mistake, is in fact the move which makes the very idea of history valid, which contains the hope that one might be correct.”

– Francesco Dal Co


Few institutions have been the result of a singular intelligence to the extent of the Academical Village of the University of Virginia. Inasmuch as its every aspect – planning, design, construction, operation, and curriculum – bears the imprint of its “Father” Thomas Jefferson, the Academical Village, or “Lawn,” is an embodiment of his values and ideas. These ideas, shaped both by the exigencies of the time and a conscious study of history, are reflected in how Jefferson designed the architecture of the Lawn – a pedagogical instrument communicating both the conflicts inherent to a society and how they might be reconciled.

Architecture involves the possibility of being other than its fact and facture: that is, the building is host to forces – social, political, or otherwise – that may be invisible to the eye, but are nevertheless real and active. It is above all in this sense that the Lawn is always already “virtual.”

This project is an attempt to articulate some of these forces. It traces but one possible trajectory.


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