Monticello Verde

A story in the news last weekend made me think about a trip this past houseAugust to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello.  Matt’s parents were in for a visit and we all went to see the 3rd President’s beautiful mountain top home in Charlottesville, Virginia.  I love this place!  It is a true privilege as a native Virginian to show it off to visitors.  I consider it one of the beginning influences in my love for Palladian architecture.

The love that Thomas Jefferson had for the land and how he integrated the design for the house was sustainability at its heart.  His design made sense.  It worked with the land and used its features for all that lived, worked and played there. 

garden-viewMonticello boasts its sustainable measures long before green was so fashionable.   Here are a few:

The house is integrated into the land through the roundabouts and great lawn

Dependencies under the main house allow for coolness in work spaces, horses and privies,  natural refrigeration for wine cellars and ice house

Terraced gardens on a sunny hillside

Livestock controlling ditches instead of fencing

Tremendous efforts in plant cultivation and experimentation

Weather Observation

Water Collection Cysterns

 Space Saving Closets and Dumb Waiters

 Expansive Windows for breathtaking views tree-goneand ventilation

I was sad to note that one of the large trees has died and is now gone from the lawn side of the house.  You may have noticed something was different in the first photo above.  Here is a closer view……

This past weekend (November 8, 2008) the new 42 million dollar Thomas Jefferson Visitor’s Center & Smith Education Center opened.  While its grand opening isn’t slated until Spring of 2009, April 15th to be exact. (I wonder if the coincidence of tax day was any consideration?)  Hopefully they will have their LEED accreditation by then.  The new center will serve as the gateway to the house and be the new stepping off point for the house tours with a museum shop, cafe and classrooms.  The 42,000 sf facility is going for Gold LEED status.  With sustainable features that include:

A geothermal heating and cooling system
Two “green” roofs
Enhanced indoor air quality
Advanced storm-water treatment
Water conservation measures
Recycling protocols
Extensive use of locally and sustainably produced building materials

When I was there this past summer I was only able to see glimpses around the construction barricades.  I could see a new gleaming copper roof but not much else.  I can’t wait to get back and see how the project has turned out and if it complements one of our nation’s greatest homes.

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