Gaines Group Architects

15. #Monticello #105architecturalinspiration

Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant architect and #Monticello one of his greatest works. He designed his plantation home in the Roman Neoclassical style with 43 rooms. There are 13 skylights, walls vary from 13.5″ to 27″, and it is around 11,000 sf of living space. Many of the building materials came from the land surrounding the house and the craftsman from the local community.


Thomas Jefferson said that “architecture is my delight, and putting up and pulling down, one of my favorite amusements.”  This explains why building his home took 40 years including remodel and additions. Like many architects, he liked to test theories out then improve based on the results. He viewed his role as an architect to be one of leadership, one that shaped culture, and one that impacted the future. 


Monticello is filled with innovative design solutions. The Great Clock in the front hall was functional as well as a conversation piece. The dome room with a large oculus skylight was certainly a luxury space and not at all a “normal” design solution for the time. It was added in 1800 and was known to be the first dome ever installed on a house in America at the time. Jefferson used mirrors to maximize natural light in the home. I suspect he never finished his design for Monticello and could still be making changes today. However, as someone who has visited many times, the place he left in design is exceptional and one of the best I have ever seen.


#105architecturalinspirations is a collection of architectural details, buildings, and spaces that inspire me. I am taking on the challenge of finding two projects to spotlight each week in 2015. Hopefully I will be able to keep up and this process of discovery will push me to create better design solutions for my clients as I research and learn more about those projects I enjoy most. I challenge you to add your comments below about this project and to post your own inspirations for all to enjoy. 

Full List of previous #105architecturalinspiration posts

1. Jefferson’s Academical Village

2. Charleston, South Carolina

3. Solar Decathlon

4. National Museum of the American Indian

5. Lighthouses

6. Hatch Show Prints

7. The Aqua Tower in Chicago

8. Chicago Theatre Marquee

9. Samuel Mockbee

10. Richard Meier

11. Notre Dame du Haut

12. Philip Merrill Environmental Center

13. Church of the Light

14. Magney House