University of Virginia Ambassadors Share Essay on Salt Lake City meeting

08 Jul 2017 12:26 PM | Christine R Henry (Administrator)
Three University of Virginia graduate students attended the 2017 VAF conference in Salt Lake City in June thanks to the support of the VAF Ambassadors Award program. The group was comprised of two MA Architectural History students and one MA Urban and Environmental Planning student with Louis Nelson serving as the faculty sponsor. The attendees documented the conference through social media posts and will share their experiences during the upcoming semester to help build awareness for the 2018 conference in nearby Alexandria, Virginia to fellow students. 


Attending the 2017 VAF Conference was an eye-opening experience. The depth of knowledge and quality of research of the attendees instigated wide-ranging conversations and provided an endless source of learning. Having the opportunity to meet and listen to the leaders in the field was informative for my research and helpful to my professional development. I thoroughly enjoyed the various tours around the region and their accompanying guides, especially the high-quality booklets provided for each. The tour of Temple Square was a highlight for its importance to a uniquely American religion, while the Park City tour allowed for access to private houses and structures not otherwise available to visitors. Beyond the tours of the conference, my classmates and I took the opportunity to explore a western state that was “new” to us. We also visited the city of Ogden and continued north to see Robert Smithson’s 1970 work of land art Spiral Jetty at the edge of the Great Salt Lake. Many thanks to the VAF for their generous support of the Ambassadors Award and I am looking forward to the 2018 conference.

—Andrew Marshall, Masters of Architectural History

The VAF Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah was the first conference I attended not only as a UVa student but also as an international student in the United States. The discussions were effortless with the broad array of attendees and hosts. I met several people with aligned interests and I was relieved to realize that I was not the only planning student interested in preservation and vernacular architecture. The most interesting part for me was the visit to the major Mormon sites around Temple Square, including the Tabernacle, Lion House and Beehive House. The tours to the two houses were excellent and helped us imagine Brigham Young's life with his family. The quality of the tour made me wish that I had more time to explore Temple Square. Other highlights included the Library square's planning and the retrofitted base isolation system of the City—County building's foundation. Overall, it was a very interesting conference and I look forward to attending the next one.

—Haritha Bhairavabhatla, Masters of Urban and Environmental Planning

I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend the 2017 VAF Conference for many reasons. First and foremost, it provided the opportunity to meet professionals, scholars, and students in this field. It was exciting to experience to hear the differing perspectives about architecture and preservation. The VAF Ambassadors award also allowed for my fellow UVa students and I to visit a city that is off of many people's radars. Salt Lake City provided an urban experience that was unique from any other American city that I have visited. This was the first conference I have attended and I look forward to attending many more in the future.

—Kelsey Dootson, Masters of Architectural History

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