Author: Lydia Mattice Brandt

assistant professor of art history at the University of South Carolina
ENTRY

University of Virginia, The Architecture of the

As Thomas Jefferson‘s last major contribution to American public life, the University of Virginia combined his deepest civic and personal passions: democracy, architecture, and the dissemination of knowledge. Springing from concepts developed in his early years as a politician and gentleman architect, Jefferson’s design for the university, which he called the “Academical Village,” was a large, complicated composition based in the rules and monuments of classical architecture. Tightly organized around a U-shaped, terraced lawn with a library at its head, Jefferson’s university combined faculty and student housing, classrooms, dining halls, and utility spaces into a relatively self-sustaining complex. Understood even by its founder as a place that would have to adapt to changing needs and a growing population, the university was amended and reconsidered throughout the nineteenth century, until a massive fire in 1895 allowed for a substantial reorientation of Jefferson’s initial vision by the New York architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White. Over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, however, attempts to alter and preserve the Academical Village have been far more cautious.

Sponsors  |  View all