Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An architectural channeling of Mr. Jefferson's spirit. . .

This was the first beautifully functional building associated with the University of Virginia and Charlottesville to garner national admiration.

This is the latest:  
Sports Illustrated's new arena of the decade, no less.

This is what Sport's Illustrated had to say about John Paul Jones Arena
BEST NEW ARENA: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.
The University of Virginia spent $140 million to build John Paul Jones Arena, which opened in 2006. The arena is a perfect size (capacity 14,593), includes state-of-the-art practice, training and academic facilities, and it blends perfectly into UVA's stately campus.
Charlottesville architectural firm VMDO were JPJ's lead designers. Bob Moje, one of the firm's founding partners, had this to say about designing the current Pantheon of college basketball (and yes, he channels Thomas Jefferson, de rigueur when talking about U.Va. architecture):
I am a little biased, but it was pretty cool to have JPJ named the best new arena of the decade. It is a pretty remarkable accomplishment for the University.  Thomas Jefferson's vision for the University was to strive for excellence in all areas so the students would have the opportunity to be exposed to all sorts of experiences. I think that the arena has helped to do this by bringing all kinds of events and people to the University that otherwise would not come to a relatively small city like Charlottesville. Athletically it sets a very high bar which is in keeping with the goals that the Athletic Department has set for itself. The competition at the highest levels of the NCAA is fierce but the University's Athletic Department has been attempting to match Jefferson's dream of excellence in all areas. This venue certainly contributes towards that goal.
I remember when Bob Moje and his partners founded VMDO in Charlottesville in 1976; back when Charlottesville as a community was just starting to make the transition from Old Boy enclave to what it is today. And you know, when I stop and think about it, that march is perfectly symbolized by VMDO's own march to international recognition for innovation and excellence in the designing of public spaces.

I remember U. Va.'s arena-before-this-one, U-Hall, with great fondness. After all, when it opened in 1965 it, too, was heralded for its innovative round shape and multi-purpose functionality. And it housed those really, really great years of U.Va. basketball when Harrisonburg's Ralph Sampson decided to go to college close to home.

But it never quite worked for concerts, something for which JPJ arena cannot be faulted. I mean after Bruce Springsteen deems a facility appearance worthy, what else is there to say?

I must add, as a long-time, dedicated rock-n-roller it was The Bomb to have the Boss play in one of WMRA's communities. So you go! VMDO.

I did ask Bob what VMDO is up to these days.
We are working on some other cool things. Just finished what is probably the "Greenest" school in Virginia up in Manassas Park. Next to open will be the home for The Jefferson Fellows which should finish this winter, and we are just starting a new high school in New Orleans which is part of rebuilding that community from the devastation of the Hurricane.
NOTE:  Today, U.Va. men's basketball has yet to rival the acclaim garnered by its praise-worthy digs. But for those of us (which certainly includes me) who still care about U.Va. men's basketball, I'd like to add that the 'Hoos were home in JPJ last night, and they beat the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 68-37.

ANOTHER NOTE: Tom Duval, who is this blog's Higher Power,  just informed me that VMDO has been a WMRA underwriter, and that I would do well to let you know that as well.


  1. And you can hang stuff out to dry on those spikes, like coats, tarpaulins, and pickanick baskets.

  2. Nice post, I am going to link to you.

    all the best