Virginia Union University's recent improvements have clearly run afoul of architecture critic Edwin “Tear Down This Wall” Slipek (Arts & Culture, Aug. 25), What he seems to forget is that fences and walls are commonly used by universities to define their edges in a manner compatible with the campus architecture.
My alma mater, the College of William and Mary, has a brick wall surrounding most of the old campus. For the two years I lived on the campus of Hampton Institute, now University, the campus was secured every night with closed gates. Yes, Virginia Commonwealth may meld into the surrounding Fan and downtown neighborhoods with neither gates nor walls, but Virginia Union, with a clearly defined campus, should be allowed to accent its edges, and implement reasonable security measures for its community.
As a North Side neighbor, I take issue not with the fence but with some unfortunate details. Along Lombardy Street the fence installation ignores existing street elements and in places resembles an emergency construction fence. Blatantly locked pedestrian gates with shiny padlocks, fence sections crossing driveways without gates, and most absurdly where the fence blocks access to a pedestrian crosswalk (installed in brick by the city at no small expense) all detract from what otherwise should be an attractive architectural feature.
Yet overall, I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Slipek. My message to VUU President Perkins is different: “Keep the fence, just fix the details.”