Earlier this year I collaborated with Mary Guptill, Nick Fiore, and my wife Kate on an architecture competition for a section of Charlottesville, Virginia. The competition was to look at two blocks just off the downtown pedestrian mall including the weekly farmer’s market. Our solution was to place primacy on the market and a creating a park to contain it, giving it life throughout the week. The remainder of the site was designed as on-grade retail spaces, upper office and residential spaces and a below grade parking structure.
Unfortunately the juror committee choose projects that radically increased the amount of retail and residential space, at the sacrifice of the market. The selected schemes developed the two blocks significantly higher, 6-8 stories, than the surrounding 2-4 story buildings. I think we all felt very strongly that the new construction should harmonize with the existing range of buildings, not dominate it.
And, we really believe that the opportunity to make significant public spaces, green spaces, in a section of the city without any, surely should trump conventional development.
I am dissappointed that we did not win (although we were chosen among the public’s top ten favs). However, I would not have increased the density of building on this site to do so.
Competition boards by Mary Guptill and Nick Fiore, 2007.