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Design Principles

The harmonious design of the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center respects Jefferson's iconic Monticello without echoing its neoclassical vocabulary.

Resting lightly in the wooded landscape and using natural materials, the design by Ayers/Saint/Gross defers to the greatness of Jefferson's internationally recognized design while creating a sensitively sited public space with its own character and an arcade reminiscent of Jefferson's.

The architects and design team thought carefully about Jefferson's approach to the design and construction of Monticello, considering the practical issues as he did: conserving water and energy, optimizing natural light with windows and skylights, setting structures into the topography, connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, using locally available materials, and employing the latest technology.

All of these are reflected in the design, construction, and appearance of the new center, which stands as a modern and functional complement to the historic house, not a replication of it.


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