May 14, 2004
Vol. 34, Issue 9
Back Issues
‘Our Students Lead Us’
Sullivan Award-winners
Part of the fabric of University life
Curiosity drives Mitman’s pursuits
‘Reverend Nurse:’
At 52, Valley minister feels call to care for the whole person, spiritually and physically
Leap of a lifetime:
Athlete Kim Turko jumps a formidable hurdle — life-threatening illness
He’ll be back:
Adult education graduate studies adult education
‘Hungry to Help:’
Student refugee wants to improve the lives of Burma’s forgotten children
Revitalizing Main Street:
Jill Nolt’s plan for her hometown high school makes front-page news
Peace Corps bound:
Business major trades fast lane for slow pace on Tonga
First in her family:
Angela Caldwell, a Native American, overcomes community attitudes to become lawyer
From Crane’s love of the cosmos comes new era for stargazers
A history of Finals
Sharlotte Bolyard is flying high
A ministry of medicine

Bombay bound:
Darden grad to apply best U.S. business practices to family company in India

Peer educator looks beyond educating:
Health advocacy is next step for Alyssa Lederer

No ‘cookie-cutter’ solutions:
Family expert Charmaine Yoest says creativity, flexibility are keys to resolving work/family issues

Reflections on the road to enlightenment:
Thirteen years, one class at a time, but who was counting?

‘Connecting communities:’
Presentation on African-American history at U.Va. gets students thinking, talking
Revitalizing Main Street
Jill Nolt’s plan for her hometown high school makes front-page news

By Derry Wade

Jill Nolt
Photo by Derry Wade
Architecture student Jill Nolt caught the imagination of her hometown community in the planning of a creative revitalization project.

Though most people today would agree that the phenomenon of “suburban sprawl” is threatening the existence of our rural landscape, most of us do not know what to do about it. Perhaps, like those in Montgomery County, Pa., we should take a lesson from Jill E. Nolt, whose plan for managing the growth of her hometown high school recently made headlines.

A soon-to-be “double ’hoo,” who earned her undergraduate degree in architecture with high honors from U.Va. in 1998 and who will receive dual master’s degrees in architecture and landscape architecture here on May 16, Nolt conducted research for her master’s thesis last fall on defining and structuring space within the boundaries and dynamics of time. This theoretical study included a practical application in the form of a proposal to address the needs of two groups — education and business — within her hometown, Souderton, Pa.

The high school in Souderton is overpopulated and projected to grow even further. In response, the school district has proposed to build an $85 million campus on 160 acres of farmland. Simultaneously, local business leaders and town officials are seeking to repopulate the increasingly vacant Main Street area, which lies adjacent to the existing high school.

In Nolt’s plan, instead of spending millions on a new high school campus miles from the town center, the neglected buildings along Main Street would be renovated to serve as additional facilities for both the school and the town. A performing arts center and a fitness center could be used by students during the day and by the entire town in the evening; additional classrooms could provide meeting space outside of school hours. New retail businesses, established along the street, would allow students employed in the school’s work-study program to provide goods and services to the community as a whole.

“The growth of the school within the borough will cultivate the revitalization of the once-thriving town,” Nolt said. “Together the borough and the school can make Souderton a new kind of community that integrates learning, culture and economics and that promotes high school students as an important part of the society.”

Recently, Nolt’s proposal was featured on the front page of The Morning Call, in nearby Allentown, Pa. In addition to generating interest among the people of Souderton, her ideas have the potential to be applied to similarly situated communities throughout the country.

Julie Bargmann, director of landscape architecture, commended Nolt’s multi-disciplinary vision: “I think it’s wonderful that her work has caught her town’s attention and has significant civic implications that reach beyond formal design implications. She is the ideal model of our new department of architecture and landscape architecture in that she can think at the scale of a watershed, and create at the scale of a doorknob.”


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