Ten Buildings that Changed Black History in Virginia

Buildings shape our lives and reveal our history. The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. In close collaboration with the Virginia Center for Architecture, the two organizations are embarking on a public outreach program called Virginia Celebrates Architecture.  One element of this program is to introduce new conversations about the built world and the part it played in shaping Virginia’s history.

In recognition of Black History Month in Virginia, the Virginia Society AIA and the Virginia Center for Architecture have assembled 10 structures that changed history in the Commonwealth.

1. Robert Russa Moton High School — A student-led strike at this Virginia school played a significant role in ending segregated “separate but equal” schools throughout the nation.

2. Fort Monroe — In 1861,the commander at this Hampton fortification announced that his troops would not enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. Slaves who fled to the fort would be treated as “contraband of war” and not be returned. By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, it is estimated that more than 10,000 enslaved African Americans sought refuge at Fort Monroe. [adrotate banner=”53″]

3. Harrison School — Now the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, the Harrison School was the first public high school for African-American students in Southwest Virginia.

4. Gum Springs — West Ford, a former slave, founded Gum Springs after being freed by George Washington. The oldest African-American community in Fairfax County, Gum Springs became a sanctuary for freedmen and was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

5. The St. Luke Penny Savings Bank — Conceived of by Maggie L. Walker, St. Luke’s provided a courteous, safe place for African Americans to conduct financial business during a time when Jim Crow laws and oppressive conditions made banking difficult for many blacks.

6. Kate Waller Barrett Branch Library — On August 21, 1939 — more than two decades before the famous sit-in movement — five young African Americans staged what is thought to be the first planned sit-in at the public library in Alexandria, Virginia.

7. Jackson Ward — After the American Civil War, previously free blacks joined freed slaves and their descendants and created this thriving African-American business community, which became known as both the “Black Wall Street of America,” and “The Harlem of the South.”

8. Attucks Theatre — Built in 1919, the Attucks Theatre was designed, developed, financed, and operated entirely by African Americans. Once known as the “Apollo of the South,” the theatre is named in honor of Crispus Attucks, the first American casualty of the Revolutionary War in the 1770 Boston Massacre.

9. Manassas Industrial School —The school was founded largely through the efforts of former slave Jennie Dean who, after years of fundraising, chartered the school on October 7, 1893. The school taught both academic subjects and skilled trades to young African Americans.

10. Longdale Recreation Area/Green Pastures Recreation Area — At the urging of the Clifton Forge Chapter of the NAACP, the Forest Service constructed this recreation area to be used by African Americans in the area. It was built by a local Civilian Conservation Corps company from 1938 to 1940 for the African American community in response to the construction of the whites-only Douthat State Park.

About the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects
The Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects is a professional association representing nearly 2,500 members. Since 1914, the Virginia AIA has represented the professional interests of architects and allied professionals in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For more information, contact the Virginia Society at (804) 644-3041 or visit www.aiava.org.

About the Virginia Center for Architecture
The Virginia Center for Architecture is located at 2501 Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District. The Center is dedicated to developing the understanding of the power and importance of architecture through programs, exhibitions, and its stewardship of an historic landmark. The Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Learn more at www.architectureva.org.

About Virginia Celebrates Architecture
Virginia Celebrates Architecture is a year-long public outreach program marking the 100th anniversary of the American Institute of Architects in Virginia. It is intended to develop a broader understanding of architecture and design by beginning new conversations about buildings and the impact they have on our lives. Learn more at www.vacelebrates.org.

AIA Celebrates 100 Years in Virginia

Virginia Celebrates ArchitectureAs the Commonwealth collectively greets the new year, citizens throughout Virginia are working, studying, shopping, eating and sleeping in spaces designed by architects — many with very little understanding of how quality design enriches the human experience.  Virginians move through their days without recognizing how architecture shapes our lives and reveals our history. Without being conscious of how we all use places to describe and anchor some of the most important events in our lives — from the hospitals where we were born to the cemeteries where our loved ones are buried.

As the Society welcomes 2014, we’re marking the 100th anniversary of the AIA in Virginia by generating a new conversation about the designed environment. In close collaboration with the Virginia Center for Architecture, and AIA components in Virginia, we’ll embark on a comprehensive public outreach program called Virginia Celebrates Architecture. Through this year-long observance, we’ll work to develop a broader understanding of what architects do and the value they bring to our communities.

A robust schedule of public outreach programming, including exhibitions, lectures, group programs, and tours will take place throughout the year.  The centerpiece of this program is an exhibition announcing Virginia’s favorite architecture. The exhibition — aptly titled Virginia’s Favorite Architecture — showcases the results of a public poll which garnered nearly 30,000 votes during November and December. It kicks off with a public announcement and Opening Reception on Thursday, April 10, at the Virginia Center for Architecture.  In addition, through the compilation and timely release of a year-long series of top ten lists, we’ll use structures to tell the story of the Commonwealth and the citizens that built it and inhabit it today.

Several special events have been planned for members of the profession as well.[adrotate banner=”52″]

Virginia Design Forum: Dwelling  — April 11–12
The eleventh biennial Virginia Design Forum turns our attention to the one environment where we yearn to feel most secure: home. Speakers include Peter Gluck of Gluck+; Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG; Jeff Kovel of Skylab; and Ma Yansong of MAD.

A Virginia Accord — Sept. 19–20
We’ll consider job creation and environmental sustainability through the lenses of transportation, the constructed environment, public health, land development, and urban infill. Speakers include Richard Jackson, author of Making Healthy Places; Dan Friedman, President of National Academy of Environmental Design; James Cramer of Greenway Consulting and Chair of the Design Futures Council; and outstanding speakers representing mayors, USGBC and transportation interests.

Architecture Exchange East — Nov. 5–7
We’re featuring nearly 70 educational sessions, spectacular behind-the-scenes architectural tours, engaging special events, and cutting-edge vendors. Keynote speaker Brian Mackay-Lyons will share his pioneering work with MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple Architects.


Livable Communities Exhibition at VCA

What makes some communities seem like better places to live than others? Ask several neighbors, and you’re likely to get a different answer from each of them. The American Institute of Architects has identified some common elements and created 10 Principles for Livable Communities. Livable Communities for Virginia explores each of the 10 principles using examples from communities all over the state, including Richmond, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, Newport News, Harrisonburg, Roanoke, Alexandria and more. Attend the opening reception for Livable Communities for Virginia at the Virginia Center for Architecture on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 from 4:30–7 p.m.

For more information, call (804) 644-3041, extension 100 or visit www.architectureva.org.  There is no charge to attend the Opening Reception; however spaces are limited. RSVP online to secure tickets. Livable Communities for Virginia is at the Virginia Center for Architecture through March 23, 2014. There is no charge to visit the exhibition.

Livable Communities for Virginia kicks off a year-long recognition of the centennial anniversary of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects called Virginia Celebrates Architecture. The exhibition is intended to help citizens, public officials, and others who are actively engaged in civic dialogue, to understand the basic elements of community design. It is a starting point to leverage existing tools, strategies, and synergies at the policy, planning, and design levels so that our communities can reach their full potential.

In addition to the exhibition, the Center will be offering an SOL-correlated educational program for groups each Wednesday through March 20.

Livable Communities for Virginia is sponsored at the Virginia Center for Architecture by Branch & Associates, Inc.

Vote for Virginia’s Favorite Architecture

Voting is open at vacelebrates.org to determine Virginia’s Favorite Architecture. Choose your favorites from among 250 structures — buildings, bridges, monuments, and memorials — that were nominated by you to represent Virginia’s rich architectural heritage. Voting runs through Dec. 27, 2013.

Once votes are tallied, the Virginia Center for Architecture will announce the top 100 in an exhibition, opening on April 10, 2014, called Virginia’s Favorite Architecture.

The voting and exhibition are part of Virginia Celebrates Architecture, a year-long observance celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. Founded by 5 architects in 1914, the Virginia Society AIA is the statewide professional association for architects in Virginia with more than 2,000 members.

Nominations began at Architecture Exchange East 2012 and were collected online from Virginia architects through early August 2013.