U.Va. Marks the 261st Birthday of
Public lectures, tree-planting part of Founder’s Day activities
J. Harvie Wilkinson III, the former Chief Judge of the Richmond-based U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and landscape architect Peter Walker, principal
of Peter Walker and Partners, and newly selected winner of the design competition
for the World Trade Center memorial, will receive 2004 Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Medals in Law and Architecture, respectively. (See profiles, below.)
The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, and the Thomas
Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, are the highest
outside awards offered by the University,
which grants no honorary degrees. The annual awards — law in its 28th year,
and architecture in its 39th year — are given as part of the University’s
Founder’s Day activities, centered around Jefferson’s April 13 birthday.
The University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, a nonprofit
organization that owns and operates Monticello, sponsor
the medals, which will be presented
during a private luncheon in the University’s Rotunda.
Both medal recipients will give public lectures. Walker will
speak on “Minimalist
Gardens” on April 12, at 3 p.m. in Cabell Hall Auditorium. Wilkinson will
discuss “Building a Legal Culture of Affection” on April 14, at 4:20
p.m. in the School of Law’s Caplin Pavilion.
A tree honoring Ernest H. Ern, U.Va. professor emeritus of environmental
sciences, will be planted near the University’s Brooks Hall on Tuesday, April 13.
University President John T. Casteen III will preside at the planting of a white
oak at the 2 p.m. ceremony.
Ern joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1962 as assistant
professor of geology. He became assistant dean in the College of
Arts & Sciences in
September 1966, served as dean of admission from 1967 to 1973, and was promoted
to vice president for students affairs in 1973, a position he held for 20 years.
Ern was named senior vice president and University professor in 1993. That same
year, the U.Va. Board of Visitors established the Ernest H. Ern Distinguished
Professorship in Environmental Sciences. In 1998, he received the Algernon Sydney
Sullivan Award for excellence of character and service to humanity.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture
Walker Brings Nature’s Power to Urban Landscapes
collaborated on “Reflecting Absence,” a memorial
to commemorate the victims of the World Trade Center attacks
than 5,000 entries.
By Elizabeth Kiem
In the half century that Peter Walker has been designing urban and
environmental projects, he has incorporated the aesthetics and traditions
of the globe
into his work. He believes that modern architecture in the 21st
century is by nature
international, and that landscape architecture, in particular,
draws strength from global development.
landscape is more powerful because we’ve become so urban,” he
said in a recent telephone interview. “A tree in the city is
more powerful than in the country.”
As the recipient of the 2004 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal,
granted jointly by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and the School
has been awarded the University’s highest outside honor.
Adele Chatfield-Taylor, president of the American Academy
in Rome and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation trustee
who served on
shares qualities with Jefferson as an architect.
is steeped in tradition, but at the same time very creative
and very original and very open to the originality of others,
which is very Jeffersonian,” she
Walker began his career in 1955, studying at the University
of California at Berkeley. He earned further degrees at
University before returning to California to establish
his own practice, Sasaki Walker and Associates. In
1983 he formed
Partners, which currently
employs 27 landscape architects.
The firm’s major recent projects include Millennium Park for the 2000 Olympics
in Sydney, the Sony Center in Berlin, the San Diego Library Walk and the Sky
Forest Plaza in Tokyo. Walker collaborated with architect Michael Arad to design “Reflecting
Absence,” the memorial selected from more than 5,000 submissions
to commemorate the victims of the World Trade Center.
“We’ve never had this media rush,” he said of the sudden public attention
to the memorial design, which was unveiled in January. “Landscape
architects tend not to have much light shown on them.”
While he has only taken on a few memorials in the past
(including his family’s
own seaside plot in Mendocino, Calif.), Walker said he felt a duty to enter the
World Trade Center Memorial competition: “You do it to win, but
you also do it as a public obligation.”
Walker noted that one of his early mentors (and fellow
Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal recipient), Lawrence
spent 20 years securing
a memorial to
Franklin Roosevelt, a man whose life and death greatly
affected Halprin’s generation. “I
understand his motives exactly,” Walker said.
In addition to “Reflecting Absence,” Walker’s firm has won
17 design competitions in the past decade. Walker said that designing public
spaces always involves controversy, even when the project does not involve an
act of terrorism and thousands of grieving families and friends. Arad’s
original design faced multiple criticisms, many of which Walker helped to overcome
by introducing greenery and tranquility to the planned starkness of the Ground
Zero plaza. Other complaints focused on the lack of 9/11 artifacts and the ordering
of the victims’ names. These criticisms have not desisted entirely.
don’t believe in design just being an election,” Walker said of
the task of a designer to respond to public demands. “I think
in the United States there is a lot of finding the least common denominator
and then building
it. But you waste a lot of money that way.”
Walker said that his artistic awakening coincided
with the era of minimalism, but explained that
it is simplistic
“There’s no such thing as a white room in landscape,” he
Instead, his intention is to make the urban
resident more conscious of nature by emphasizing
in his designs.
Frederick Law Olmsted, who saw nature as an
antidote to the factory lifestyle of the 19th
today with the interminable
passage of natural time, which is often overlooked
from the vantage of climate-controlled offices.
try to make … you very conscious of where the sun is, what the seasons
are, and also the stages of life,” he said. “I try to make my landscapes
focus on what’s going on, whether you like it or not.”
Walker will accept the 2004 Thomas Jefferson
Foundation Medal in Architecture on Founder’s Day, joining the ranks of esteemed architects Mies
Van Der Rohe, I.M. Pei and Frank Gehry. An exhibit of his work at the
Center in Dallas will be on display at the School of Architecture April
5 through 24.
Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law
Wilkinson, seeks ‘legal culture of affection’
J. Harvie Wilkinson III, the 28th law medalist, credits
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell with instilling
an appreciation of the human dimension in law.
By Elizabeth Kiem
Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law
recipient, Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson
III, may be on the
nominees to the Supreme
Cout, but his
present proximity to the nation’s
top bench is not the result of a clearly
In fact, just five years after accepting
a coveted clerkship with Supreme
Court Justice Lewis F.
the legal profession
was terribly tempted to go into journalism fulltime,” said
Wilkinson, recalling his three-year tenure as editorial page
editor for the Virginian Pilot. “There’s
a lot I miss about it.”
As Wilkinson explained, writing
editorials and writing legal
decisions are vocations
radically at odds with
a newspaper editor, you’re paid to say what you think, and a judge is
paid not to say what he thinks,” he noted. “Both of these professions
have very appealing sides. It’s just frustrating that I can’t
be both at the same time.”
Brooklyn-born Wilkinson moved
to Richmond when he was 2
His father, a distinguished
U.Va. alum (1927), Darden
(1952-1961), and Board of
Visitors member (1966-1970), fostered
loyalty in his son.
have to be a pretty devoted fan to drive up in the midst
of a 28-game losing streak and make the trek up Route 250
every Saturday,” said Wilkinson,
adding “it’s been sort of
a love affair with the University ever
since, in many different capacities.”
After attending private
schools in Richmond and
Wilkinson graduated Phi
to U.Va. in 1970
as a law student.
He was the first student
ever appointed to the
Board of Visitors,
from 1970 until 1973.
He has served on the Law School
John C. Jeffries, dean
of the Law School,
called Wilkinson “one of the
nation’s most accomplished and distinguished jurists.” He said that
awarding him the Jefferson Medal was a decision independent of Wilkinson’s
University affiliations, but that “these
ties make it a special pleasure for us
to recognize his achievements in the
Appointed to the Fourth
Circuit Court of
Appeals by President
bench is the last stop on the judicial
trail to the Supreme Court. Over two
decades he has presided over thousands
of cases, ranging from
EPA regulations to the
rights of criminal suspects, including
the recent case of the detainee Yaser
Hamdi, a seminal development in the legal
handling of enemy combatants
war against terror. The judge declines
to characterize the relative significance
of the many cases that he has ruled on.
don’t try to differentiate because every case is so all-important to
the litigants,” he explained. “You can never ask a doctor ‘Which
were the most important operations you performed?’ My answer would be ‘Well,
the one I’m going to perform tomorrow.’”
his mentor, Supreme
of the legal
He recalled walking
down the street
sincere interest in passing petitioners.
try to emulate him,” he said. “He really felt that
judging was a calling
of public service and that you’re not a very good judge if you don’t
with a genuine
of four books,
to having “the writer’s
bug.” Among his writing projects
are a treatise examining how the law
drains practitioners of imaginative qualities
and a study of
the structural characteristics
of the Constitution.
a “legal culture of affection.” Wilkinson
he is intellectually puzzled about how people with dramatically
can maintain affection for and trust in each other.
thesis has practical applications, as well.
want to try to get beyond the level of platitude on this,” he asserted.
in the profession –— whether it be the practicing bar, or the academic
community or the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee or the judicial fraternity –— have
thoughts on “a legal culture of affection” on
the occasion of his acceptance of the Thomas Jefferson Medal.