Vortex Communications Team

For the past five years, the University of Virginia has hosted the Vortex competition, which brings together over 300 architecture students to tackle an ongoing issue in the surrounding community. This year, the students from the school's four disciplines—architecture, landscape architecture, urban and environmental planning, and architectural history—were asked to transform Charlottesville's Preston Ave., a commercial area that has seen dramatic changes thanks to urban renewal policies.

In the 1960s, controversial urban renewal policies improved vehicular traffic on Preston Ave., but divided well-established neighborhoods and displaced African American and working class families. To reverse these effects, the students, divided into 23 teams, consulted local officials, design experts, and School of Architecture alumni to create more appealing public spaces, make the area more pedestrian-friendly, improve public housing availability, and create a better atmosphere for businesses and residents.

Students were given just two weeks to design their proposals. Following the end of the workshop, an awards ceremony honors the best presentations.

For more on the competition, visit UVAToday.

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