Grab the goggles

After the success of “Get Surreal” a year or two ago, the Second Street Gallery is back in the locally produced group show gig. With “Surreal,” the Gallery approached a raft of local artists and asked them to collaborate on a group exhibit with certain surrealist methods in mind. That was, of course, an art exhibit. 
This time out, it’s something slightly different. The Gallery bypassed artists and approached local architects, landscape architects, and assorted urban planners. The Gallery asked them to investigate Charlottesville’s neighborhoods and city centers and offer their own vision of how– if they had the chance and no restrictions– they would change them. No trifling budget caps, no meddling bureaucrats, just an existing cityscape as a springboard to a reimagined one. The exhibit “Envisioning Architecture” displays the results.
Although the plans are all ambitious, some are far more audacious than others.  Robert Vickery, taking the assignment seriously, looks at the Downtown Mall and Main Street and limns a Mall-like corridor stretching all they way up to UVA. It would be a huge, expensive project, but it’s not hard to visualize.
Mall-like parking garages, tight retail spaces, and trendy apartments would be packed in all along Main Street, complete with small extras such as a School for the Arts on Market.
Gate Pratt’s design for Preston Avenue and Vinegar Hill– an equally ambitious plan that finds the areas beefed up with residential spaces– comes in three views: one each from the years 1950, 2000, and 2050.
Samuel Cleveland’s wacky plan puts the work of Vickery and Pratt into perspective. Concluding that important cities all have waterscapes of some kind, Cleveland proposes a lake for low-lying parts of Charlottesville. In Cleveland’s plan, Lake Charlottesville’s northern shore would begin a few blocks shy of the Downtown Mall and stretch southwest from there, giving the Atlantis treatment to First Street and Cherry Avenue. The jet-ski business would explode. I’m all for it.

The Second Street Gallery presents “Envisioning Architecture: A Charlottesville Imagined,” an inclusive exhibition showcasing the creative talents of local architects, landscape architects, and urban planners, through August 11. 201 Second St. NW.  977-7284

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