Architecture school project fosters traffic solutions, teamwork
Vortex urban planning hopes to reduce congestion along popular Route 29
The Architecture School kicked off its third annual “Vortex” workshop project Monday, this year under the theme “29 North After the Sprawl,” in which students compete in teams to research solutions to traffic issues on Charlottesville’s Route 29. One winning team will be chosen this Sunday and present their findings to the city.
The project brings undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty together, as well as students studying different architecture fields.
“The Vortex project this year is rethinking the 29 North corridor and kind of preparing a plan for how we can make it better by 2029,” fourth-year Architecture student Graham Lohr said. Lohr said the project aims to make the street “both a more sustainable and a better place to be around, not just one with horrible traffic gridlock.”
In last year’s Vortex project, students re-imagined corridor planning along a section of the Rivanna River. Fourth-year Architecture student Joshua Cruz said that project was much more aesthetic.
“In terms of scale, it’s slightly different,” Cruz said. “On Route 29, it’s a different concept. It’s not river-based; it’s roads-, traffic- and pedestrian-based. [It is] more urban planning than landscape-oriented.”
Students expressed uncertainty of the actual effect that their suggestions will have on future policy measures in the Charlottesville area.
“The city and the county have been essentially at a stalemate for a decade,” Architecture graduate student Asa Eslocker said. “So while we don’t know what will happen, we hope that our suggestions will spark new ideas and new energy for reimagining Route 29 as a better place for citizens of Charlottesville.”
Regardless of the actual effects the study will have, the students are using the project to gain valuable and relevant hands-on experience.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to be able to work with the landscape architects as an urban planner,” said Tatiana Marquez, an Architecture graduate student in the urban and environmental planning program. “Having both parts balances really well. Also you get to know other people from the faculty and get to know the real problem at the place where students live.”