14 March 2010

Enlightened Architecture


as envisioned & drawn by Jefferson
image from wikipedia

 Jefferson's sketch of the University of Virginia Rotunda

The rotunda at the University of Virginia was planned by Thomas Jefferson to represent the authority of nature and the power of reason. The classical architecture of Palladio best represented the ideals of Jefferson's vision for the architecture. The University's Library was originally housed in the Rotunda-Jefferson considered the library to be the beacon of enlightenment and wisdom.

Jefferson is the only US President to found a university- and to design one.

University of Virginia founded 1819
image from here

Detail of University of Virginia map
by Herman Böÿe, 1827.
University of Virginia Library
(image from here)

Campus Plan University of Virginia c.1825
image from wikipedia

the Serpentine Wall
University of Virginia
image from here

& then there's this- It reminds me of a bank or two I've seen.

Regent's University founded 1978 by Pat Robertson
Virginia Beach VA
images from wikipedia

this- all there is to say is oh NO! No prayer can help this view.

Oral Roberts University here
founded 1963
Tulsa Oklahoma

& this. trying, failing miserably to channel a little Jeffersonian vibe.

Liberty University founded 1971 by Jerry Falwell
Lynchburg, Virginia
image here

read more about the architecture of the University of Virginia -the Ideological Spaces of the Academical Village by Jim Cocola here
read more about  the Rotunda Occulus here



  1. The University of Virginia Rotunda is indeed beautiful. I have fond memories of it since graduates in my daughter's major receive their UVA diplomas in the top room. I miss living(part-time)in C'ville.

  2. Gaye, I am fascinated by Jefferson's architectural drawing of the Rotunda, explaining the simple geometry behind it. I thought you should know that I am scribbling enlightenment buildings all over the back of an envelope right now. Child's play at this level of endeavour. Maybe I could realise a Rosie folly in my back yard?

  3. That Jefferson... can you imagaine what that mind would have done with today's resources? He was amazing in his own time. The true Renaissance man.

  4. Masterpieces all of them!
    Great post!

  5. I am intrigued by the serpentine wall. Do you know why it was done that way? Was there Enlightenment reasoning behind the need for walls to be wiggly?

  6. So now we know who has the conviction to take the time and effort to build universities today. Chilling.

  7. So now we know who has the conviction to take the time and effort to build universities today. Chilling.

  8. I have always admired Jefferson's architecture, his own home is magnificent as well. His sense of space and symmetry are so appealing to me. Quite the Renaissance man!

  9. Emile, apparently the design of the s gives strength to the wall and the wall can be built one brick thick. Yet another of the innovations Jefferson attempted to combine aesthetics with utility-so yes maybe so. thanks for stopping in. gaye

  10. I have been so moved by this and the last post.

    In Jefferson's own words
    " to the corruptions of Christianity i am , indeed opposed...
    I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wanted anyone to be"

    Thomas Jefferson also said
    "The whole history of these books is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it"

    I wonder does the religious-right-born-again fringe "the crackpots" know that the bible was not written in English?

    Have they studied linguistics, ancient languages like Aramaic, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin?
    as did Thomas Jefferson? Perhaps then they might reasonably comment.
    As it is-
    America needs a mass EXORCISM



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