The Amazing Combo of Architecture & Arts Administration
Given the caliber of students and people at UVA, it is no surprise when one of them uses a summer break to do something that benefits others. Last summer, Adriana Giorgis took that a step further. Her summer break efforts have the potential to impact generations to come. Giorgis, an Architecture and Arts Administration double major, took her training home to delve deeper into a project she had unwittingly been chasing since childhood. For as long as she can remember, the Rome native had joined her family on summer trips to a small island off Tuscany, a tiny slice of paradise filled with gorgeous nature, bountiful sunshine, and ancient ruins of a First Century villa. This villa once captured her imagination, but was now breaking her heart. Year after year, when she returned, she would find the remnants of the structure falling deeper and deeper into disrepair. “The place has been completely looted, marble pieces have been removed, mosaics are gone. It was an open site with no police.” Giorgis decided to do something about it, and when she returned and began doing research under Andrew Johnston, Associate Professor & Director of Historic Preservation, and Zaneta Hong, Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture, and sought the advice of George Sampson, Director of Arts Administration.
She started by writing a booklet that focused on the typology, and the social and financial constructs of villas at that time. She went on to apply for and receive two grants for the project, using a Harrison Grant to research the villa’s history, and the Carlo Pelliccia Fellowship to travel there with two classmates. They went to see for themselves the state that structure and others like it had been left in, and what role the state may or may not have played in their upkeep and restoration. Giorgis arrived well equipped and well prepared with a drone and with 3-D laser scanning technology. With the help of Special Collections Information Visualization Specialist Will Roark, she had spent months learning to use it, and that would prove crucial to her efforts to recreate the buildings once lost to history and start sharing them with the world. Giorgis and her fellow students’ efforts were painstaking at times. Most of the structures she was looking for had literally fallen off the map. “I used a catalog that went back to the Roman sources, then used first-hand sources and going back to maps to pick out ancient towns and, in a sense, re-find these buildings.” While Giorgis has much more to do on the project, her efforts are already bearing significant fruit. Thanks at least in small part to her work, government funds are being put toward a research and restoration effort for the villa that first sparked her interest. She is spending much of her year doing further research and will soon return in person to continue her work of finding the hidden treasures of her homeland, and putting them on the map.