Thomas Jefferson Research Paper

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Most people remember Thomas Jefferson as one of the founding fathers and the third president of the United States of America; but Jefferson had a passion for architecture and knowledge that was set aside until his later years. Jefferson played a pivotal role in defining American architecture. Monticello and Poplar Forest are just a couple of the neo-classical works that define Jeffersonian and American architecture. With his works, he was looking “to establish the standards of a national architecture, both aesthetically and politically” (The Architectural Politics of Thomas Jefferson). Jefferson, by the end of his lifetime, had planted the seed for American architecture and he believed his greatest embodiment of it was the University of Virginia.…show more content…
It was constructed in a 43 3⁄4 acre corn field in the heart of Charlottesville, Virginia (Nichols). He laid out his plan in a quadrangle with buildings on three sides and one side left open to extend indefinitely, grouping the facilities in a unified landscape setting to create an academic village (Nichols). On the laterals of the stepped lawn, he placed the pavilions and dormitories and then capped the lawn at the center of the university with the rotunda library. In order for people to move from school to school without getting wet, “the whole of the pavilions and the dormitories to be united by a colonnade…show more content…
By keeping the dormitories small, there is reduced risk of fire as well as illness (Zechmeister), this also reinforced Jefferson’s concept of an academic village rather Figure 2 (Princeton University Library, Rare Books Division, Department of Rare Books & Special Collections) 3 than a series of large multi-use buildings. The last important thing to note about the pavilions is not about the architecture but about their placement. Jefferson was very interested in creating a view from the rotunda, so much so that he spaced the pavilions farther and farther apart in order to create a false perspective so that they would look evenly spaced (Nichols). This further perfected the views he wanted to frame. Jefferson, as we can already tell by now, is very strong in his beliefs of knowledge being the most important thing, so much so, that he was the first to place the library in the center of a university campus. Before the University of Virginia, a chapel or church always marked the center of a university campus (Rifkind). To even further emphasize the importance of knowledge, one just has to look at the stepped lawn. The lawn is stepped for few reasons, one of which is to place the library at the top step above the rest of the buildings, again emphasizing the importance of knowledge. The library itself is thought of as a reciprocal of knowledge.

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