Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He previously served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801.
The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.
Along with the design of his own home, Monticello, Jefferson the architect is best known for his plans for the University of Virginia. Jefferson designed the initial buildings as an “academical village” in which students and professors would live, learn, and teach in community.
The original buildings were planned not only as housing for students and professors but also as models of architecture. Jefferson designed the most ambitious of the original buildings, the Rotunda, on the model of the Roman Pantheon. Today the University’s grounds are recognized as one of the most beautiful and important college campuses in the country.
Thomas Jefferson was a passionate student of architecture whose designs are among the most influential in the early history of the United States. As a student at the College of William and Mary he purchased his first book on the subject and later assembled one of the largest libraries on architecture in America. He was particularly influenced by the classical style of Andrea Palladio, who emphasized symmetry, proportion, and the use of columns. These principles then came to define the architecture of the early United States, first in Richmond, with Jefferson’s design of the State Capitol, and then in Washington, D.C., where he influenced decisions on the design of the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Jefferson is perhaps best known for his homes—Monticello, in Albemarle County, and Poplar Forest, in Bedford County—which became laboratories for Jefferson’s design interests and his many influences. Monticello, in particular, brought together Jefferson’s obsessions with classical forms and his admiration for contemporary France. During his retirement, Jefferson established the University of Virginia, creating a distinctive, U-shaped design of connected pavilions and a domed Rotunda circling a long, narrow green space. Along with Monticello, the university is considered to be one of the highlights of American architecture and cemented Jefferson’s legacy as a designer. MORE…
Happy Friday and enjoy the brief history lesson!
Prehistoric Times: Stonehenge in Amesbury, United Kingdom
Jason Hawkes/Getty Images
Ancient Egypt: The Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren) in Giza, Egypt
Lansbricae (Luis Leclere)/Getty Images (cropped)
Classical: The Pantheon, Rome
Werner Forman Archive/Heritage Images/Getty Images (cropped)
Byzantine: Church of Hagia Eirene, Istanbul, Turkey
Salvator Barki/Getty Images (cropped)
Romanesque: Basilica of St. Sernin, Toulouse, France
Anger O./AgenceImages courtesy Getty Images
Gothic: Notre Dame de Chartres, France
Alessandro Vannini/Getty Images (cropped)
Renaissance: Villa Rotonda (Villa Almerico-Capra), near Venice, Italy
Massimo Maria Canevarolo via Wikimedia Commons
Baroque: Palace of Versailles, France
Loop Images Tiara Anggamulia/Getty Images (cropped)
Rococo: Catherine Palace near Saint Petersburg, Russia
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Neoclassicism: The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Architect of the Capitol
Art Nouveau: Hôtel Lutetia, 1910, Paris, France
Justin Lorget/chesnot/Corbis via Getty Images
Beaux Arts: The Paris Opéra, Paris, France
Francisco Andrade/Getty Images (cropped)
Neo-Gothic: The 1924 Tribune Tower in Chicago
Glowimage/Getty Images (cropped)
Art Deco: The 1930 Chrysler Building in New York City
Modernism: De La Warr Pavilion, 1935, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex, U.K.
Peter Thompson Heritage Images/Getty Images
Postmodernism: Celebration Place, Celebration, Florida
Neo-Modernism and Parametricism: Heydar Aliyev Centre, 2012, Baku, Azerbaijan
Christopher Lee/Getty Images
Prehistoric to Parametric: Prehistoric Stonehenge (left) and Moshe Safdie’s 2011 Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore (right)
Left: Grant Faint / Right: photo by William Cho
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Who is Daniel D’Agostino, AIA?
Dan D’Agostino is an architect with over 15 years of experience as an architectural designer and project manager.
Mr. D’Agostino has extensive experience working on projects of varying scales. His portfolio of work ranges from new and renovations to single-family dwellings to high-rise mixed-use buildings in dense urban areas. Mr. D’Agostino’s work has been recognized for achievement on multiple levels. Winning an AIA Gold Medal for a mixed-use structure designed for Lower Manhattan, recurring appearances on NBC’s George to the Rescue and achieving the coveted “Best Of” award on Houzz.
Daniel received his Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT where he continues to serve as a visiting critic. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects, the Little Falls Planning and Zoning Board and Little Falls Economic Development Committee. He is a licensed Architect practicing in Northern New Jersey. In his free time he enjoys being the best father and husband he can be, golfing and playing music.
About Daniel’s firm:
planarchitecturellc is a full-service design firm which specializes in producing innovative client-driven program-based architectural design and budget appropriate problem solving.
Founded by Daniel D’Agostino, AIA, planarchitecture’s mission is to arrive at client and site specific architectural solutions to unique client demands. The firm produces work for public, commercial and residential clients.
You can find Daniel Online by clicking on the following links:
When and why did you decide to become an Architect?
I found drawing to be a great pastime as a kid. I also enjoyed building with my father. Inspired by curiosity, I always wanted to find ways to make things better. Design happens to be a way of making things better. Architecture seemed like a natural fit for me.
What were some of the challenges of achieving your dream?
Becoming an architect in general is a challenging process. While I’m patient with people, I’m not always so patient when it comes to progress. I like to see things getting done, movement and motion. Five years of schooling, 3 years of internship, 7 months of licensing, in the middle of a recession was challenging.
Any memorable clients or project highlights?
Each project has a stand out moment. The best moments occur when we are a part of the building process and able to walk a project with a client and discuss additional opportunities.
How does your family support what you do?
I am lucky to have a very supportive family. Architecture is a big part of our lives. We just had the amazing opportunity to design and build our own home so design is very much a part of our daily conversation. Prior to that, we would travel to see buildings, stop on a walk to discuss a building material. Dining experiences are typically accompanied by a short analysis of how things might have been better.
How do Architects measure success?
I think Architects are an odd bunch if I may say so myself. As such, it’s hard to generalize. For me, if I’m happy – I am successful. Some of the things that make me happy related to the profession are having the time to do something creative or inventive. Having a staff meeting where everything gels. Client meetings that end in laughter, hugs and an optimistic plan for advancing a project. Discussion with a contractor where we walk away saying – this is going to be amazing!
What matters most to you in design?
Function, daylight and views. Each of our projects start and end with how the plan works, how we experience daylight and what we see both internally and externally along a view corridor.
What do you hope to achieve over the next 2 years? 5 years?
I enjoy single family design and construction. Over the last two or three years, we have designed a number of medium density residential developments. I discovered that we were able to bring a neat little twist to this market that isn’t commonly found in these developments. Our attention to detail and space making is needed in these larger projects. I hope that in 5 years, we are doing a lot more of this.
Who is your favorite Architect? Why?
It’s a toss up – Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Kahn.
As an architect, saying you like FLW is like saying you like the Beatles. I mean, the Beatles are mainstream, have a ton of hits, and reinvented themselves multiple times over the years. FLW did the same thing. His work is accessible and always delivers. If you dig deep and learn about why his buildings look the way they do (sustainability, economics, desire to build cheaply, wartime rationing, etc.) they are amazing.
Louis Kahn, on the other hand, not so mainstream and certainly not so accessible. His buildings manage to be incredibly complex yet simple. Having traveled the world looking at architecture, the Salk Institute was my greatest experience. When you walk that plaza, it’s an actual experience.
Do you have a coach or mentor?
Not really. I’m a pretty good listener and observer. If you keep your antennas up, you are going to learn a lot.
What is your favorite historic and modern (contemporary) project? Why?
The Pantheon in Rome is my favorite historic work. It is structurally significant. The sun is used as a light fixture in the building charting messages. It’s all encompassing. The Salk Institute is my favorite contemporary project due to its connection to site. A strong axis of symmetry and orientation with the horizon. It’s breathtaking.
Where do you see the profession going over the next few decades?
I see the profession going more toward design-build. There’s a lot of waste in the profession. It’s impossible to get every single detail included in a set of plans if you are trying to adhere to an architectural budget and short timeline. In New Jersey, the cost of land and taxes are so high, there is hardly ever an opportunity to draw every single detail and review it with your client. The industry has therefore come to accept (through demanding) a set of plans for base building, and finer elements being decided by the builder. As this process has evolved, we have come to see many features lost because original design intent isn’t considered. It will also help to minimize the number of projects that come in “over budget”.
What type of technology do you see in the design and construction industries?
I think modular still has a chance. When I was leaving college, modular was the new thing because it was faster and cheaper. Over time, it turned out, modular wasn’t exactly faster, or cheaper. We should pay attention to modular building with an emphasis on trying to work aesthetic into it.
Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?
Walt Disney. We need to make sure our buildings work functionally but we also want to be entertained while being part of an experience. Disney was great at this.
Which building or project type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?
I’d like to do a New York City high rise on the West Side. Growing up in Hudson County, New Jersey, the New York skyline was a big part of my childhood. I drive down a street and see projects I designed going up or completed and you feel a sense of pride and permanence. I’d like to have that feeling looking at the skyline.
How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?
Our office consists of 10 people, 9 of which are designers. I constantly put forward that our job is to help our clients and serve them. Listen to them and find the best way to deliver that which they are requesting.
What advice would you give aspiring architects (K-12)? College students? Graduates?
I started working as a Sophomore in High School at an architecture firm. I would recommend it. It gives you an opportunity through college to understand “how” you might use what you are learning. I would recommend college students get involved in outreach. Get involved in your local community and start planting seeds for future networking opportunities. Can you join the planning board? Is there a historical society you can join?
For Graduates, it’s going to sound funny but go work at a restaurant as a server. You are going to learn how to interact with people, understand how a person asks for something they need either verbally or with body language. You’ll learn how people feel comfortable by studying where they ask to sit, the way they face, how they talk to one another. You’ll learn about working in a tight space in the Kitchen and the importance of efficiency and flow.
I was lucky – I learned how to speak Spanish working a restaurant while working with the Kitchen staff. This has proven to be invaluable as the two predominate languages spoken on a job site are Spanish and English. I am able to converse in both languages. While sad, it’s worth noting that when I graduated from college, I made more money as a weekend waiter than I did as a full time draftsman. It helps to have money.
What does Architecture mean to you?
Simple, a place to be comfortably protected from natural elements.
What is your design process?
My design process starts with the site. From there, I sit with my clients and I start designing with them. I’m not the type that comes to my single family residential clients with plans for how they should live. With my larger development work, we analyze the site to maximize efficiency and density.
If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?
I couldn’t imagine myself being anything else.
What is your dream project?
I’d love to work on a stage set. Loose some of the parameters of gravity, building code, weather resistance to create an environment.
What advice do you have for a future Executive leader?
Surround yourself with great people in all aspects of your life and consistently invest in yourself.
What are three key challenges you face as a leader in business today and one trend you see in your industry?
As a business leader, I find staffing challenging because we are a service industry – not just design and construction so personnel is the most important. You can get anyone that meet’s your qualifications. You can also get anyone with a good personality. Getting them both isn’t always the easiest. When you do you, do everything you can to keep them. Balancing the administrative elements of the business while maintaining your service qualities is a challenge. I was only able to find success here after hiring administrative personnel. When I started the business five years ago at 29, fresh out of a recession, no portfolio of work and competing against other architects more than double my age was a challenge. We’ve now developed an impressive resume to support my interview process, however being the “young” architect seems to rear its head. I try to convince people, it’s not the number of years you’ve been doing it, rather the number of years you’ve been doing it right. The trend now is the integration of internet design.
What one thing must an executive leader be able to do to be successful in the next 3 years?
Develop patience and resilience which has no regard for timeline. Patience, as I stated earlier, wasn’t one of my virtues. Everything takes time. Resilience is important because the highs are way up there and the lows – we don’t talk about them.
What are some executive insights you have gained since you have been sitting in the executive leadership seat – or what is one surprise you have encountered as the world of business continues to morph as we speak?
As the world of business continues to morph, our industry has stayed the same in principal. We have to be flexible in how we deliver information. A BIM model isn’t always the answer, sometimes a sketch to be texted out in 20 minutes is more important. We also have to remember, architecture is a business. The more successful firms know this.
Final Thoughts on How to Be Successful?
Surround yourself with great people. It starts with family and follows through staff, clients, contractors. Work as hard as possible. While it’s important to get your sleep and rest, you still have to write that extra email or do that extra sketch. Go that extra mile, especially when it may not be needed or no one may be watching.
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What better way to ring in the new year than to highlight one of our new designer colleagues discovered on social media?
Tara Imani, AIA, CSI, is a registered architect and owner of Tara Imani Designs, LLC, a solo practice in Texas, focusing on residential renovations, commercial space planning, and architecture. She has been blogging for over a year now, beginning with her debut blog post on AIA KnowledgeNet in October, 2010 where she explored what is now a commonplace question in the field of architecture: “Is the Architecture Profession in Need of a Makeover Despite the Upturn in the Economy?” (<—You can click on the highlighted title to link to the blog and join the conversation).
11) Who / what has been your greatest influence in design?
This is a very interesting question because I try not to be defined by a certain style- I consider myself eclectic. In thinking more deeply about this, I have to say it was my formal education at Ohio State that has by far been the greatest influence on me. Sub-consciously when I sit down to design, I think about how we would go about solving various design studio problems and what would Professors Doug Graf, John Regan, Ben Gianni or Mas Kinoshita say about “that idea!” It is incredible to think what an indelible imprint our design professors make on our creative thought processes. Not to mention the influence of seeing how other students handle certain design problems. We learn from each other.
Aside from my background, I draw inspiration and learn new ways of doing things by reading various architecture magazines. But each client and project is different and it is important to respond to the immediate context, specific program needs, and design based on those parameters while addressing the required jurisdictional planning, building, and ADA codes (which are baseline requirements and should be exceeded).
“Every new project is essentially a blank canvas.”
~ Tara Imani, AIA
12) Which building type would you like to work on that you haven’t been part of yet?
There are so many building types I have not yet worked on. I would like to take existing programs and improve them such as Student housing at universities, solving urban and suburban decay, revitalizing neighborhoods, redesigning and adapting existing facilities to new uses. All of these projects excite me.
I would love to be part of a think tank team that tackles big problems. I like a challenge and to work with people who want to make a difference and aren’t afraid to try something new.
I’m very entrepreneurial and loved being part of my family’s start-up, creating everything from marketing materials, the company logo, branding our image, hiring new people, determining our core services, implementing new software systems and setting up the daily operations. Every day was an opportunity to wear many hats.
13) How do you hope to inspire / mentor the next generation of Architects?
I was asked to co-author a book on how to become an architect for emerging architects. This was in August 2011 and I have yet to complete it. I was gung-ho about the project and had actually been waiting for an opportunity to write such a book. However, it has proved more difficult than originally anticipated—due to the rapidly changing A/E/C industry (with Revit, a move to BIM, IPD, and changes to LEED including a new International Green Building Code, etc.). I was concerned that my lack of certain credentials would impede the book from being read.
The industry has changed so much due to technological advances that “seasoned architects” are in a reverse position of needing to be mentored and re-trained ourselves.
It is impossible to lead others without leading one’s self.”
~ Tara Imani, AIA
I get my inspiration and compass directions from architectural thought leaders such as James Cramer, founder of The Design Futures Council and Design Intelligence whose website and publications offer cutting edge information: www.di.net. And staying active in social media also helps stay current on what other firms are doing- such as Tweet chats hosted by the AIA or reading posts on www.aia.org ‘s Knowledge Net forum—a place where mostly architects go to ask questions and share hard-won wisdom with one another.
And I look to outside sources in other arenas such Twitter where you can interact with such innovative leaders as Tom Peters, Vala Afshar, Lolly Daskal, and Frank Stephens whose thoughts and ideas can inform architecture in ways our otherwise insular profession has not had in the past.
14) What does Architecture mean to you?
This question reminds me of an ongoing conversation/debate we had on AIA’s Knowledge Net site a few years ago where we all tried to define “What is good design?” Many of us easily fell back on Vitruvius’s Firmness, Commodity, and Delight (my favorite definition to date) while others said “modern” and still others wanted to focus solely on sustainability which, to me, is an underlying aspect that runs through all areas of design and is a pre-requisite consideration in the earliest stages of the design process.
When I hear the world ‘architecture’, I think of beautiful buildings like the Louvre museum in Paris or the Pantheon in Rome. Architecture is synonymous with Aesthetics and cannot exist without a parti (French word for concept/diagram); a unifying concept/idea that makes sense of the project’s many parts. This is what sets mere functional buildings with true architecture—that unspoken feeling of sublime awe when you experience a Gothic Cathedral (or so I’m told… I haven’t been to one- yet).
15) What is your design process?
My design process is iterative. It starts with meeting with the client and listening to their needs. Vetting clients is very important and sometimes (even though as they say “beggars can’t be choosers”) it is best to turn down a project if the client refuses to understand the legal requirements of certain tasks or doesn’t have an adequate budget—unless you can assist with a creative solution to help them find a way to build it for less cost or come up with a way to assist them in raising the necessary funds.
“The client needs to respect the design capabilities and experience of the Architect.”
~ Tara Imani, AIA
Once the project goals, budget, scope of services (what I will do), and the fee (most important) is determined and agreed upon, the next step is to get a signed contract and a retainer fee. Then, it is appropriate to begin to solve the design problem.
Sometimes, it is not possible to accomplish what I just wrote in the above paragraph as clients might be trying to decide if a particular site or lease space will work—in those cases, I can provide the client with a feasibility study for an agreed upon fee.
A lot of factors come into play that some clients might not be aware of—building codes differ by jurisdiction, fire codes are critical to comply with, occupancy loads are determined by square footages and use, construction budgets will be stretched. It’s not a matter of merely “drawing up a set of floor plans”. It’s a matter of orchestrating a confluence of design factors and meeting client expectations.
16) If you could not be an Architect, what would you be?
This is another intriguing question. For years I was driven by a need to make others around me happy. This led to being at everyone else’s beck and caw while ignoring my own needs. It’s a delicate balance to pursue worthy goals without being selfish.
To answer your question more directly: I would like to be a writer or an actor. I also enjoy dancing and the performing arts, so being an entertainer or speaker would be fun.
I feel I can do anything I set my mind to.
I’ve already mentioned some of my pursuits in play as a child; some of the other interests I had were creative writing, espionage, and organizing messy rooms/drawers/closets (even if it was someone else’s house).
Funny fact about me: At age 34 or so- when I was having a moment of frustration in the family business- I decided I would pursue my hidden desire to be a spy, so I called the FBI and asked them if they were hiring. LOL! I really did that. They said yes, they were but that the maximum age to train a new agent was 36. I did the math and thought that it was too late to do that. Naturally, I thought of the next thing: being a private detective. So I opened the Yellow Pages and called a few (there are only a few listed anyway) and got an interview with one. He was an older, handsome man much like the TV character Matlock. Without looking at my resume or discussing anything, he looked directly at me across his big wooden brown desk and simply got right to the point and said, “Miss, you don’t want to want to be a Private Detective.” Insert uncomfortable pause. “Trust me.”
Of course, I was not satisfied with his answer. I needed to know specifically why: Would I have to carry a gun? Was he ever shot at? I think I asked him if the job required having to sneak around dark alleys at 3:00 a.m.
Well, he wasn’t specific in his responses other than to shake his head yes to all of the above and more. I could tell his mind was made up so I took his advice and forsook any notions of suburban espionage.
17) What is your dream project?
I would love to work on a Hollywood set although I’ve heard the pace is maddening. My dream project is actually writing a book about Julia Morgan and having it made into a screenplay that I would get to co-direct. I envision it as an epic period piece along the lines of ‘Titanic’ spanning her whole life- like a series- and showing to the finest detail what life was like for women in 1893 Paris when Julia was accepted on her third attempt into the L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. I’ve envisioned various actresses playing her role from Julia Roberts to Angelina Jolie. I think John Goodman or Brad Pitt would make a great William Randolph Hearst (Julia’s lifelong client). So, it sounds like a match made in Heaven!
Tara’s Contact Info:
Tara Imani Designs 10333 Richmond Avenue, Suite 150 Houston, Texas 77042 Ph: (832) 723-1798 Fax: (832) 300-3230 Email: Tara@TaraImaniDesigns.com
Also Check Out:
- “Where East Meets West: The “Flow” of Floor Plans” by @GailGreenDesign
- “Much Ado About Nothing: The Physics of Space” by @GailGreenDesign
- “Eyes are Windows, Doors are Portals” by @GailGreenDesign
- Inspired Personalized Architecture
- Visionary Buckminster Fuller
- FDR Four Freedoms Park by Louis Kahn
- Architecture of Lebbeus Woods
- Architect Artist Le Corbusier
- Exeter Library by Louis Kahn
- Remembering Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye
- My 10 All-Time Favorite Architecture Books by @FrankCunhaIII
- Significant Architecture : 2012
- Inspired Personalized Architecture
- Order, Formulas, and Rules
- Attention Deficit Disorder – Designing Every 2 to 3 Minutes
- Architecture Shall Live On / Architecture Manifesto
We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments.
If you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!
2013 is going to be great ~ Sending you lots of love, hope, peace, health, happiness and prosperity!
Frank Cunha III
I Love My Architect – Facebook
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