This project studies specific areas within Charlottesville while, at the same time, establishing a computer based model and methodology that can be utilized in other cities as well. In each area of the study, the computer is used to collect and synthesize primary materials.4 In addition, the computer is mobilized to support links with public agencies and to promote community participation in studying development patterns and opportunities in various neighborhoods. With an interactive basis in the research and design work, the concerned public can become directly involved in understanding and shaping healthy neighborhoods. Recognizing and registering concerns and insights that citizens have in shaping their own immediate and civic environment provides a meaningful voice for those who have been largely excluded from any formative role in the past. The ability to synthesize and organize a vast range of material and to present it clearly suggests a compelling way to bring design issues before the public.5 In addition, the interactive model has been designed to facilitate feedback and direct input from those who review the material, exploring the various options and considerations presented. This information in turn influences and builds the body of research itself, thus producing something of a cyclical and cross-referencing process.

The interactive computer "text" includes traditional narratives of the city's history; oral histories from neighborhood residents; a compilation and transformation of maps at various points in the history of Charlottesville; historic and contemporary views; videotape recordings of significant sequences and animated representations of proposed urban design strategies; catalogs of housing types in plan, elevation and image format; and the collection of previous efforts with affordable housing strategies from the past. This material forms the basis of transformational work in the architectural design portion of the project. For example, aspects of the urban history of Charlottesville are reconstituted in a way that provides a compelling direction for future development based upon patterns that derive from the past. In a similar vein, new housing strategies are developed and proposed as modern adaptations of traditional patterns of dwelling and residential construction.

This project, including the text and various forms for graphic and visual support, is available to anyone with an Internet connection through the "World Wide Web" ( These commands bring up the home page for the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia which has sponsored and supported this research; look under "Work in Progress". This "interactive" access allows community groups and other architects to participate in the ongoing research as it develops. The presentation at the ACSA Annual Meeting will utilize the interactive features afforded by this technology. For the purpose of this article, I have chosen to restrict the presentation to the narrative text dealing with one neighborhood. Ahead of this description lies a larger urban history (in text, maps, diagrams and views) of Charlottesville itself.6 Given the vast range of material included in the computer archive, and with the understanding that this visual material is best understood "interactively", I have chosen to wait until the ACSA meeting in Seattle to provide a more holistic presentation. Bold items in this text indicate links with additional graphic material contained within the electronic document.

Introduction Specific Uses of Information Technology Notes Regarding the Application of this Research Introduction Notes

Charlottesville Archive

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Last Modified: Monday, 20-Oct-2008 16:35:12 EDT