Architecture Around the World

University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia




Thomas Jefferson


Roman Neoclassicism / Classical Revival / Jeffersonian Neoclassical

Official Home Page:

Also designed by Jefferson:


Companion page:


TEXT Beneath Illustrations

Click on illustrations for larger size -- and additional information


Note balusters and stair-ends

Note paneled window jambs

Dentils and applied decorated frieze

The Dome Room / Library

. . .  

The circular dome room occupies the entire third floor

Pair of columns with capitals that feature the Composite order of Palladio, a 16th century Italian architect.

The Dome Room.

Oculus in the white dome

The Dome Room

Strongly influenced by the Enlightenment, Jefferson's belief that learning was preeminent found expression in his placement of the library in the center of the Rotunda, his temple of knowledge.

It was Jefferson's intention that social events such as dinner be held here. Thus, he cleverly placed the bookcases behind the room's columns so that from the center of the room the volumes of books cannot be seen.

The room's ceiling is a white dome, crowned with an oculus which accentuates the spaciousness of the structure. Originally the skylight was supported on a wooden frame with spokes radiating from a central wooden axis. However, this device leaked despite various attempts to correct the problem throughout the 19' century. Today the skylight is composed of Plexiglas and aluminum, which provides the same effect as Jefferson's design.

The room is encircled by pairs of columns with capitals that feature the composite order of Palladio, a 16"-century Italian architect whose books were a source of information and inspiration for Jefferson. The order is a marker of high status, as fits the use of this room as a library, a place to acquire knowledge.

Companion page: EXTERIOR PHOTOS

Photos and their arrangement © 2004 Chuck LaChiusa
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