Thomas Jefferson, Architect: The Built Legacy of Our Third President

January 3, 2012

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Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, was also its first great architect. The Jeffersonian Classical style has been so influential that, along with Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson, Jefferson is one of the three most recognized architects in American history. Although never formally trained as an architect, Jefferson intensively studied the architecture of Paris when he resided there as minister to France and read extensively on classical architecture, particularly Palladio’s Four Books on Architecture, all of which gave him a firm footing in the classical tradition.

Monticello, his own home, was constantly redesigned by Jefferson during his life time, and he referred to it as his essay in architecture. The University of Virginia, which he founded and conceived the architecture for, is perhaps the greatest campus of any American university and certainly one of this country’s greatest public spaces. Both of these are well served by the beautiful panoramic photographs in this volume, which show them in the landscape they are situated in, an integral part of Jefferson’s design. Less well known, but included here, is the balance of Jefferson’s work as an architect: the Virginia State Capitol and over a dozen private homes which still stand today. Illustrated with splendid color photography by the same author-photographer team that created Rizzoli’s Wright for Wright, this is the first volume to combine all the extant work of Jefferson.