The dilemma of building contemporary architecture in the context of one of America's World Heritage landmarks, Thomas Jefferson's Academical Village at the University of Virginia, is the central theme of ""Urgent Matters"". Karen Van Lengen, former Dean of the School of Architecture, writes about her vision of building the School of Architecture - a highly orchestrated collaborative design strategy to exemplify the potential of architecture, landscape architecture, preservation, and planning in the public realm. Using their existing building, Campbell Hall, as a working laboratory, Van Lengen demonstrates how various spatial, material, and iconographic designs can influence and support the mission of an institution in a period in which branding and image-making is the norm. The book includes both written and visual descriptions of the built projects of the past decade (1999-2009) designed by faculty, students, and alumni.
Karen Van Lengen is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Architecture and former Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. She came to Virginia after her term as Chair of Architecture at the Parsons School of Design, where she founded the renowned Design Build Workshop. Van Lengen began her career as a Design Associate for I. M. Pei & Partners, before forming her own award-winning firm in New York. She currently collaborates with Joel Sanders Architects on special projects related to the architecture of sound and communication.