Graffiti would be out of place in the Rotunda's Dome Room, but OpenGrounds' Corner Building is a different structure altogether. When Thomas Jefferson designed the Academical Village, his vision emphasized form. OpenGrounds emphasizes function, and its home base, on West Main Street near 14th Street, strives to keep up with the ambitions of its inhabitants. "Come tell us what you are working on, write on the walls and share your ideas," wrote a staff member on the OpenGrounds Twitter account.
Launched in March, OpenGrounds is a multidisciplinary project with multimedia trimmings. Inside the Corner Building, it offers interactive surfaces, digital projectors and teleconference technology. It reminds students, faculty and a handful of fellows that their greatest intellectual challenge is cooperation and engagement with a community.
In short, it's the Academical Village reborn, a "modern manifestation of Jefferson's founding principles," says Teresa Sullivan, president of the University.
But it's not bound by a building. Founding director Bill Sherman, UVA associate vice president of research and an award-winning architect, wants OpenGrounds to encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative work. While the Corner Building will provide the forum, OpenGrounds will offer community-curated events that invite broad participation, and the technology to sustain it.
The project, says Sherman, should promote "the kinds of innovation that open up the University and create totally new fields of knowledge and solutions to societal challenges." So far, this means hosting student-run flash seminars and plans for an exhibit of Ansel Adams photographs from the UVA Art Museum collection, along with anything else you might write on the wall.