Charlottesville Downtown Mall Honored as 2012 Iconic Landscape - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Charlottesville Downtown Mall Honored as 2012 Iconic Landscape

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Free flowing movement is what Lawrence Halprin had in mind when he created Charlottesville's downtown mall over 30 years ago.  Thursday his work is being honored for its beauty and importance.

The downtown mall is being recognized by the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) as a 2012 iconic landscape.  At a celebration ceremony, the ASLA gave a sense of what the creator had in mind when he designed the space.

It's pedestrian paradise.  That's how the ASLA describes the Charlottesville downtown mall.

"Like a community living room where people can come together, young and old, black and white, all people of ages can enjoy this," Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Huja said.  "It's like the heart of our community, a healthy heart."

That heart of the community is built on an inspiration from dance.  Dancers from the Charlottesville Ballet Company took part in the ceremony to give a look at what inspired Halprin.

Donal Oldaker, a Virginia Chapter of the ASLA member, said, "As today we saw the dancers moving through the space it was beautiful for that, we were meant to move through space like that."

When creating the mall, Halprin used dance terminology to create his own.

"So the ways that the trees are set up, the way you flow through the space, is part of that terminology that he had through the design terminology," Oldaker. 

The mall stands out as an iconic landscape because it is well maintained by the community.

"There were lots of different problems that occurred with other malls and they, in some cases the communities, just basically gave up on them," said Rob McLeod, Virginia Chapter of the ASLA president.

McLeod says he only knows of a few pedestrian malls that have survived since they were built in the 1960s and 1970s - making Charlottesville's downtown mall unique.

City officials were thanked by the ASLA at the event for their work to preserve the downtown mall.  It continues to be a model for other cities that are looking for ways to revitalize downtown areas.

Reported by Molly Balkenbush

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