An American Vision of Harmony
Thomas Jefferson dedicated his later years to establishing the University of Virginia, believing that the availability of a public liberal education was essential to national prosperity and individual happiness. His design for the University stands as one of his greatest accomplishments and has been called “the proudest achievement of American architecture.” Taking Jefferson’s design drawings as a basis for study, this paper explores the possibility that he incorporated incommensurable geometric proportions in his designs for the Rotunda. Without actual drawings to illustrate specific geometric constructions, it cannot be said definitively that Jefferson utilized such proportions. But a comparative analysis between Jefferson’s plans and Palladio’s renderings of the Pantheon (Jefferson’s primary design source) suggests that both designs developed from similar geometric techniques.