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Architecture building named for Burchard

By Julie Kane

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 22 - February 26, 1998

The Virginia Tech Board of Visitors has named a new architecture building in honor of the late Charles H. Burchard, founding dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.
During Burchard's 14-year tenure as dean from 1965 to 1979, he transformed the Department of Architecture into one of the nation's top colleges.
According to university President Paul E. Torgersen, "Naming the architecture addition Burchard Hall would be an endearing tribute to Dean Emeritus Charles H. Burchard, an icon in the field of architectural education who profoundly influenced the course of education at Virginia Tech. In this way, he will be remembered as a beloved and revered mentor to generations of CAUS alumni."
Burchard was 75 when he died in 1990.
In 1965, then-President T. Marshall Hahn recruited Burchard to come to Virginia Tech as part of Hahn's sweeping initiative to transform Virginia Tech from a technical institute to a major comprehensive university. As dean of architecture, Burchard enlisted an imaginative and innovative faculty, installed a new five-year undergraduate program and restructured the master of architecture program.
He complemented those programs with bachelor's and master's programs in urban affairs and landscape architecture, a doctoral program in environmental design and planning, and a study-abroad program in Switzerland.
For building what became a model for architectural schools around the country, he was designated a university distinguished professor in 1966 and later received the University Distinguished Achievement Award in 1985. Upon his retirement, he was bestowed the title of dean emeritus.
After gaining national prominence as an innovative leader in architectural education, Burchard was elected a fellow in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1970. In 1983, he was presented the Award for Excellence in Architectural Education, the joint award of the AIA and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).
Burchard, a prolific writer, outlined his concepts of architectural education in numerous professional journal articles, monologues, and in papers delivered in many professional conferences throughout the world.
His thinking helped reshape architectural education throughout America. He became active nationally as a director of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), president of the ACSA, and chairman of NAAB evaluation teams visiting various campuses across the country.
Burchard earned his bachelor's in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the Harvard School of Design, he studied under world-renowned architect Walter Gropius and received his master's degree in 1940.
Due for completion by the end of April, Burchard Hall will house 42,000 square feet of studio and shop space for the architecture and industrial-design programs. The large studios on the first floor and mezzanine level will help alleviate overcrowding, which began in the 1970s. The addition was designed by the Norfolk firm, Shriver and Holland Associates, who also served as architects for Cowgill Hall. The unique underground building with four massive pyramidal skylights illuminating studio spaces below preserves a popular plaza as a meeting place and a thoroughfare.