di Valmarana, professor of architecture at U.Va. since 1973,
just retired from teaching. He started two study-abroad programs
for architecture students, which include visiting his family
home in Vicenza, Italy.
to the University: Showing architecture students the real Palladio
he designed his treasured Rotunda and its now famous Lawn, Thomas
Jefferson studied the laws of architecture set down by 16th-century
Italian architect Andreas Palladio. He did not copy Palladio exactly,
but instead used his laws of proportion, light, color, form and
movement as design tools in creating the University of Virginia.
In addition to learning about the Academical Village, students
in the School of Architecture learn about Palladio first-hand
when they visit the school's Venice and Vicenza programs, both
designed by architecture professor Mario di Valmarana. The Vicenza
program, the University's first official international study program,
was started in 1975. The Venice program followed four years later.
Graduate students attending the Venice program study the local
architecture. Photos courtesy of the Architecture School
a native of Venice, came to U.Va. 27 years ago for what began
as a three-month appointment. He has been here ever since, discovering
and sharing Palladio's influence on America and modern architecture.
Valmarana retired in January, he will remain with the programs
-- linking aspiring architects in Charlottesville to the Palladio
of Renaissance Italy -- and will help the school with finding
additional support for the programs as well as other future needs.
many years, Mario made an enormous contribution to our program,
to our graduates and to our faculty," said Karen Van Lengen,
dean of the Architecture School. "Not only did he introduce
the great legacy of Italian architecture through the formation
of the Veneto programs abroad, he also introduced us to a special
life and a legacy going all the way back to Palladio."
Valmarana has generously shared his family home, the Villa Capra-La
Rotunda in Vicenza, designed by Palladio and built in 1560, with
the students over the years. He also has enthusiastically shared
with them his interest in Palladio and his passion for his native
region of Italy, known as the Veneto.
gives students a tour of the Academical Village.
childhood home, La Rotunda, remains one of the icons in the history
of Western architecure. Through Mario's memories and personal
experiences of this villa and landscape, he inspired his students
to strive, as Palladio had once done, for meaning and clarity,"
Van Lengen said. "He showed us the enormous potential of
architecture. Architecture that speaks to its time and place in
24 years Valmarana has co-taught the programs he calls "extensions
of the University in another realm," in which students studying
architectural design, history, planning and landscape immerse
themselves in the culture, art and architecture of the Veneto.
Valmarana says they provide a transformational experience for
many of his students. There is no comparable library or slide
collection. They absorb "the physical, moral and spiritual
experience of living in the city," he said. "The community
is such a vital part of the experience."
effect of professor Valmarana's method was to ensure that we understood
that architecture will not survive in a cultural void. In many
ways those lessons about the interdependence of art, culture and
architecture remain with me most strongly today," said Jeff
Bushman, a Charlottesville architect who was a student in the
Venice program in the early 1980s.
remembers that in 1975, the Vicenza program's first year, "practically
the entire school signed up.² Unfortunately, the limit is 27 --
the number of beds in the third-floor dormitory at the Convitto
Neri where the students live. "The students are up at 7 a.m.
and on the bus by 8 a.m. discovering Palladian villas as well
as architecture created by modern Italian architects like Carlo
Scarpa, whose work continues the tradition of Italian craftsmanship
and attention to detail," Valmarana said. The program continues
to be popular with 42 undergraduate students vying for those 27
beds this coming summer.
Venice program, designed for graduate students, was originally
the final semester-long course. Students had their graduation
ceremony in Venice instead of walking down the Lawn. It has become
a two-month segment of a fall semester design studio. Students
live in apartments in various parts of the city, immersed in the
culture and everyday life. They study with two U.Va. professors
and local art and architecture experts. The students are led on
a journey of discovery through conferences, lectures, tours and
dinners in the homes of local Venetians. Upon returning to Charlottesville,
they complete a design project based on concepts and ideas formulated
1997, the Venice program was one of three courses nationally to
receive an Education Honors award by the American Institute of
Valmarana spent his childhood summers at La Rotunda, it was only
when he came to the University of Virginia and saw the Palladian
influence in America that he began to view the teachings of Palladio
with a different eye. Educated as a modernist at the Dott Architecture
Graduate School in Venice and at Columbia University, Valmarana
discovered that modernism uses hidden laws of proportion, light,
color, form and movement set down by Palladio and the great masters
of the past.
A leader in architectural preservation, Valmarana directed the
preservation program in the School
of Architecture from its inception in 1983 until 1994. In
1978, he and students worked to stabilize the ruins of the Jefferson-designed
estate of Gov. James Barbour in Barboursville, Va., which burned
Christmas Eve 1884. Other conservation efforts include Bremo in
Fluvanna County and urban conservation and preservation of the
town of Gloucester, Va.
says he will continue to study and preserve La Rotunda, his family's
home for more than two centuries. Even though he has been surrounded
by the work of Palladio since childhood, Valmarana continues to
see them with a fresh eye -- "Every time you look, you discover