Project Description


Reinterpreting the Pollock’s Branch Watershed envisions a model of urban, movement-based exploration and storytelling—rooted in Lawrence Halprin’s participatory design process—that can augment the top-down engagement efforts by public agencies and external design consultants. The project methods draw on community-based workshops to explore the psychology and politics of space and reveal the experiential qualities and invisible boundaries embedded within the urban landscape south of the Downtown Mall. These workshops offer alternative ways to “see” the Pollock’s Branch watershed landscape. Through embodied forms of analysis—including movement within the landscape and sensorial experiences—the project investigates the complexities of the area as it is lived and felt with the potential to inform future analysis and urban design initiatives undertaken by property owners, the community, and the City of Charlottesville. The overall project methodology and process is documented in the diagram below.

Project Development Process Diagram

Project Goals and Objectives

The project process: 

  • Collect available information on the area’s history and existing conditions 

  • Design place-based movement workshops throughout the Pollock’s Branch watershed 

  • Facilitate workshops and gather new information about the area through participant feedback 

  • Utilize the participants’ findings from the workshops to generate a dynamic cultural landscape atlas that will include the area’s history, community input collected throughout the project, and the project team’s analysis of collected information 

The outcomes are to: 

  • Catalyze new forms of social, cultural, and political agency at individual and collective community scales 

  • Encourage ecological imagination through kinesthetic and reflective involvement with public space 

  • Facilitate the re-imagination of the watershed through place-based and embodied experiences