There does not seem to be anything out of place with the concept of Tuesday the 13th though certainly someone has written a script pairing this ill-sounding day with a figure like Krampus. Rather than imagine how that would turn out, better instead to learn that the unlucky day of December is National Cocoa Day. So put the kettle on and grab a mug and settle in for the latest edition of Charlottesville Community Engagement. I’m Sean Tubbs.
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On today’s program:
A legislator from the Shenandoah Valley has died
Inflation increased again in November, but not as much as in the previous month
UVA Health officials recommend getting a flu vaccine and keeping a mask handy
Perrone Robotics to launch autonomous shuttle at North Fork Discovery Park in Albemarle
The University of Virginia’s Buildings and Grounds Committee debate whether red brick should be included in the future Karsh Institute of Democracy
First shout-out: Homelessness in Charlottesville: From Stigma to Solutions
Want to learn how to help our unhoused neighbors find affordable permanent housing? LivableCville is hosting a webinar, "Homelessness in Charlottesville: From Stigma to Solutions", on Wednesday, December 14 at 5:30 PM. Learn from experts from The Haven and the Blue Ridge Area Coalition for the Homeless about housing, homelessness,and policy recommendations to address homelessness in Charlottesville. Registration information is available at LivableCville.org.
Delegate Campbell dies after battle with cancer
Delegate Ronnie Campbell of House District 24 has died after a battle with cancer according to several media reports. Campbell was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2018 in a special election for a district that covered Bath and Rockbridge Counties. He received 59.25 percent of the vote against a Democratic opponent that year and was won in 2019 and 2021 in contested elections.
Campbell was 68.
Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert issued a statement on Twitter.
Governor Glenn Youngkin also had remarks.
"Suzanne and I are saddened to learn of Delegate Campbell’s passing," said Governor Glenn Youngkin. "Ronnie served the Commonwealth he loved in so many ways: as a State Trooper for over two decades, on the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors and School Board, and in the House of Delegates. He cared deeply about his community, the Commonwealth, law enforcement, and above all his wife, Ellen, and their family. Suzanne and I are praying for the entire Campbell family during this difficult time."
Redistricting led to new legislative boundaries in the Shenandoah Valley. If Campbell had chosen to run in 2023, he would have been a candidate in House District 36 which covers Staunton, Waynesboro, and parts of Augusta and Rockbridge Counties. The Virginia Public Access Project lists sitting Republican John Avoli as a candidate for the Republican nomination contest.
This means two vacancies in the House of Delegates and one in the Senate with 29 days to go before the next session. There is a special election on January 10 for the soon-to-be former House District 35 in Northern Virginia to replace former Delegate Mark Keam, a Democrat. There’s also a special election for the old Senate District 7 which was vacated when Senator Jen Kiggans, a Republican, was elected to the U.S. House in District 2.
Campbell’s seat will be filled according to state law with the Governor declaring a special election. (see the code)
Smaller inflation increase in November
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the latest set of numbers put together to measure changes in the costs of purchasing goods and services. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.1 percent in November, slightly lower than the 0.4 percent increase in October.
"Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 7.1 percent before seasonal adjustment,” reads a press release that went out this morning.
That’s the smallest monthly increase since December 2021.
The Consumer Price Index is derived from prices in a wide range of broad categories and measures spending patterns for urban consumers and urban wage earners, or about 93 percent of the U.S. population.
“It is based on the expenditures of almost all residents of urban or metropolitan areas, including professionals, the self -employed, the poor, the unemployed, and retired people, as well as urban wage earners and clerical workers,” reads an explanation in the press release.
The Consumer Price Index does not cover rural areas nor farming families.
In November, the cost of energy decreased 1.6 percent with the price of gasoline, natural gas, and electricity all down. Food increased 0.5 percent and shelter increased 0.6 percent.
For the full list, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website.
People urged to get flu vaccine and wear masks as “tripledemic” looms
There is no actual medical definition for “tripledemic” which refers to rising cases of three respiratory viruses, but health officials are urging people to be vigilant as the holidays approach.
Dr. Costi Sifri, director of hospital epidemiology at the University of Virginia Health System suggests that people consider getting the flu vaccine to help reduce the spread.
“The flu vaccine this year is a very good match for the circulating strains of influenza,” said Dr. Sifri. “Right now it’s predominantly an H3N2 influenza A and that is really a significant flu strain that causes a lot of disease, particularly in older individuals.”
Dr. Sifri said the population is particularly vulnerable this year because immunity is still down two years after the first pandemic winter. He said it usually takes a week or so to develop the antibodies so this would be a good week to get them before the holidays.
With COVID and RSV both spreading in the community, Dr. Sifri advises people to wear masks in certain settings.
“I’m electing to wear masks in places where there is a lot of crowding indoors and I’m potentially at risk for being exposed to a respiratory virus, not only COVID-19 but influenza and RSV,” Dr. Sifri said.
Dr. Sifri said he has noticed more people are wearing masks around this time with the colder weather.
“We’ve also heard from the [Centers for Disease Control] that they are also encouraging people to wear masks to help reduce the spread of these respiratory viruses as we’re going through this tripledemic of COVID-19, influenza, and RSV,” Dr. Sifri said.
Part of the reason for that advice is to reduce the strain on already overburdened health systems across the United States. Another UVA Health official thought masking may continue to be more common.
“It’s been common practice in a lot of other countries outside the U.S. to do this already even before the pandemic so I suspect that now that people know they have a choice and this is a good means of preventing or decreasing the spread that people will continue to choose to do so,” said Dr. Reid Adams, UVA Health’s chief medical officer.
Perrone Robotics to launch shuttle service at UVA’s North Fork
A Crozet company has entered into a contract with the University of Virginia Foundation to provide an autonomous shuttle service around the North Fork discovery park in Albemarle County.
"The shuttle will begin by running during fixed operating schedules, transporting employees of companies located in North Fork and visitors between its nine Class-A office and laboratory buildings,” reads a press release from Perrone Robotics that was sent out on December 8.
The shuttles will use Perrone Robotics’ TONY AV technology which has previously been used for an autonomous shuttle around Crozet in collaboration with Jaunt. TONY stands for “To Navigate You.”
Sponsored message: Buy Local
Charlottesville Community Engagement’s continued existence means that many of you support local information. Want to also support some local businesses this holiday season? The Buy Local campaign is in full swing, and both the Albemarle and Charlottesville Offices of Economic Development want people to consider spending locally as they shop this year.
The Buy Local campaign highlights small businesses within Charlottesville and Albemarle County through a multi-channel, multimedia promotional and educational campaign designed to reinforce how important supporting area small businesses is to the local economy.
The campaign will continue long after the holidays. Locally-owned, independent businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence in the City or County interested in being featured in the campaign should visit www.showlocallove.org or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buildings and Grounds Committee debate lack of brick in proposed Karsh Institute of Democracy
The Buildings and Grounds Committee of the University of Virginia’s governing body met last week and considered several items of business. The first was to approve the suggested name of the new hotel that is under construction at the Darden School of Business. Or rather, two names.
“The proposed formal name is Frank M. Sands Sr. Hotel at Darden and Conference Center for Lifelong Learning,” said Alice Raucher, the University of Virginia Architect. “There will also be a proposed marketing name which is the Forum Hotel which will be used in partnership with Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants which has been selected as the hotel operator.”
Sands died in 2021 and had made a $66 million gift to Darden in May 2019, the largest in school history to date. His son, Frank Sands Jr., is on the Darden School Foundation’s Board of Trustees and is currently vice chair.
The B&G committee also reviewed changes to the Athletics Complex made up of several different components between Central and North Grounds around the site of the now-demolished University Hall. This complex includes a relatively new indoor football training facility. The complex also anticipated a new Olympic Sports Center.
“And as we were developing the drawings for Olympic sports, we were facing ever increasing construction costs due to inflation and we made some changes to bring those costs down,” Raucher said.
These changes included reducing the size of the lobby and alterations to the exterior. The committee had no objections with one member saying she thought it was an improvement.
Raucher then gave updates on the Emmet-Ivy Corridor, where the former Cavalier Inn and other buildings were demolished to make way for the University’s future. Construction is underway on both the new UVA hotel and conference center and the School of Data Science. Raucher presented the schematic design for the Karsh Institute of Democracy.
As the University approaches its bicentennial in 1826, architectural firm Howler + Yoon are seeking to create something that captures the spirit of its founding to prepare for 2226.
“How do we design for the next 200 years?” Raucher asked. “What will continue to resonate? Clearly, we want a design that speaks to democratic ideals, promotes health debate and discourse far into the future.”
Raucher said the task force that informed the Emmet-Ivy Corridor directed a design to be one that would be open to the public as well as people associated with the University.
“As the design of the Academical Village was aesthetically innovative for its time, looking to the ancient past for the design of the Rotunda and to the future for the last Pavilions IX and X, the Emmet-Ivy Task Force to offer physical expression and immersive experience of the University’s global identity as a forward-looking institution at the leading edge of design, innovation, experimentation, and impact.”
The lobby for the Karsh Institute for Democracy will include bleacher seats for presentations. A highlight of the space is a 425-seat auditorium with tiered balconies that Raucher said would still mean that smaller gatherings would feel intimate and warm.
Raucher said there will be common colors throughout the buildings that seek to emulate what can be found elsewhere on Grounds. The exterior of the Karsh Institute itself is included.
“We’re proposing to clad it in a warm, white material that ties it into the overall palette of Grounds,” Raucher said. “Both the School of Data Science and the hotel incorporate this color into its palettes. The main portico of Data Science is in the same Swiss Coffee paint color that we use on the Lawn as are the pre-cast panels on the Hotel and Conference center which denote special functions.”
Raucher said UVA is seeking the highest level of LEED certification to help the institution meet its sustainability goals. You can view all of the details in the presentation. The committee did not take a vote on the design, but will do so in March after committee feedback.
Where’s the brick?
There was some opposition to the design which incorporates limestone rather than brick.
“The building is a beautiful building,” said Bertram Ellis of Atlanta. “It just has nothing to do with the University of Virginia and I totally object to designing something that is going to be.”
Ellis said he felt the Athletic Complex buildings did look as if they were part of UVA.
Others were more supportive.
“I thought that the structures around and the stairs and all brought so much message to me that I saw it differently,” said Thomas DePasquale of Washington D.C. “I think you have to be very careful when you go away from the palette. On the other hand, I don’t know how many red brick buildings you need to say it’s UVA, but maybe.
The student member of the Board of Visitors said the original Academical Village was intended to educate students about architecture and included details of different types of building styles.
“If we’re thinking about it into the next 200 years, we also have to think about upholding Mr. Jefferson’s legacy of teaching, not only about the ideals about democracy, but also about design,” said Lily Roberts. “And I believe that this building does community that.”
Dr. Stephen Long of Richmond asked if it would be possible to include some element of brick in the next version of the design.
“Perhaps the base instead of the limestone, being a red brick to tie in the modern, to tie in the columns, to tie in the fluidity, and perhaps making an assimilation and a connection with 2226 and with 1826 so we have a little bit of red brick preserving the past?” Long asked.
Raucher said the architectural team could take a look at incorporating brick in some way, but the idea had been to make this building distinctive.
“I think the point of this was to let it sit apart from the red brick context,” Raucher said. “Everything we are doing on the Emmet-Ivy Corridor is red brick.”
Louis Haddad from Charlottesville, the committee’s vice chair, said the University should not squander an opportunity to make a statement for the future. He’s the CEO and President at Armada Hoffler Properties
“All I know is, you don’t get these opportunities often,” Haddad said. “I’ve had three going on forty years and I just want to make sure we don’t blow it by comprising one way or the other.”
Whit Clement of Richmond, the UVA Rector, had a positive opinion.
“I happen to like the building,” Clement said. “These are the same architects that did the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers.”
President Jim Ryan also weighed in.
“Took me a while to come to it but I really like it,” Ryan said. “But I also admit to liking brick… And I get the point about not compromising but if you could play around with it a little bit and have a nod.”
L.F. Payne of Charlottesville said conversations about architecture have always been a staple at the University of Virginia. He noted the committee was meeting at the Rotunda.
“And you only have to sit in this room and look around and realize that architecture and UVA really are important to each other and know that Jefferson is considered the father of American architecture so I think we have a big responsibility here as the Buildings and Grounds Committee and as the Board to make sure that when we build a building like this, an iconic building, that we get it right.”
Payne said he felt the design did qualify as embodying Jefferson’s style and spirit.
Carlos Brown of Richmond, however, called the design Brutalist, a style from the mid-20th century known for minimalism and stark depictions of structure over decoration.
“The windows don’t do that, but brutalism is not, it’s not Jefferson,” Brown said. “That’s just my initial reaction. I feel Brutalist. I don’t feel elevated cathedral. I don’t feel like this is the temple of democracy. I feel like it’s 1970’s corporate.”
Amanda Pillion of Abingdon said she would like to see a rendering that included brick, but said she did like the building. She did want all of the new buildings in the new precinct to be cohesive with the past.
“And I would hesitate to become like a lot of other schools where they have their beautiful central grounds and they don’t even take you to see the rest of it on the tour because it’s so different,” Pillion said. “I do think it is important to try to do what we’re good at tie everything in.”
Raucher said there would be more options developed before it comes back to the Buildings and Grounds Committee in March.
More from the Board of Visitors meetings in future editions of Charlottesville Community Engagement.
Material you can scan with your eyes to learn more things:
Interim White Hall School Board Member Selection Underway, Crozet Gazette, December 12, 2022
Gold mining report sent to General Assembly: What happens next?, Brian Carlton, Farmville Herald, December 13, 2022
Concluding notes for #471:
When I began to write and produce today’s episode, I did not expect to have written a long conversation about the Emmet-Ivy Corridor, but that’s what seems to have resulted. I drove through that area this morning on an errands to Barrack Road Shopping Center and tried to imagine what had been there before while also thinking about what it will look like.
Charlottesville Community Engagement exists to document discussions like this, and to my knowledge, no one else has written about this conversation but UVA Today and Bacon’s Rebellion. I would have loved to have written that story for last Friday, but time is limited. I’m glad to get some spend some of mine writing articles about the future of our community, even though I have nothing to do personally with the University of Virginia.
The cost of my time and the cost of my life is entirely paid for by listeners and subscribers. I’m a for-profit entity empowered by technology that allows people who want to read this kind of work to pay me directly. In 2023, I am hoping to hire more people to assist me because I believe the future of journalism about this community, and others throughout Virginia, is bright.
It’s because of you, the reader that made it to the end. There are more and more of you and I’m hopeful to be here in March when the next design comes by and to track the progress for each of the new buildings that spring up in Emmet-Ivy and all across Albemarle and Charlottesville.
That’s the sales pitch today. Now the follow-up. Ting will match your initial subscription. For more on that today, take a look at the About page. I’ve got to get ready to write the next one!
Special thanks to Liz Cerami and Jenn Finazzo for their audio contributions today. If you’d like to know more about how you can get involved, I’d better think up ways you can do so.