Track 2: Materials over Time: Points of Change
2 - Jeffersonian Terras Roof Structures – Modern Interventions
Wednesday, September 26
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: HYATT-Grand EFG
(Proposed for Track 2, but flexible for a better fit elsewhere)
This abstract proposes a presentation focusing on recently-completed and ongoing projects on “terras” roof architecture (designed by Thomas Jefferson) at the University of Virginia and Monticello. Similar serrated roof structures are also present in the region at Poplar Forest and Bremo.
Working collaboratively with historic preservation architects and project managers at UVA and Monticello, as well as Mesick-Cohen-Wilson-Baker Architects (Albany, NY), Keast & Hood has provided structural engineering services to restore historic features to these flat roof structures; meeting the intent of modern codes while preserving historic materials and geometry.
At UVA, structures containing student rooms are located between the ten “Pavilions” which originally housed professors. Both the student rooms and Pavilions are still used for their original function, but are now provided as high honors for deans and fourth-year students. The original “flat” roofs leaked almost immediately and were soon covered with gable roof structures which existed into this decade. The university is currently in a long-term project to remove the non-original gables and structure modern flat roofs (and historically-accurate railings) to the buildings; “encapsulating” and protecting the historic fabric while providing modern function and waterproofing, and achieving the aesthetic goal intended by the original design. The structure consists of tapered glue-laminated beams which fit into every valley of the serrated roof. While each individual section of roof between Pavilions has its own unique construction, credit will be given to Mr. David Fischetti who before his passing provided structural engineering on the first of these projects and set the tone for the later efforts.
At Monticello the terraces provided many functions as they extend to the north and south of main house around the west (rear) lawn. Beyond functioning as a modern deck might, they were used to collect rainwater and as roofing for kitchens, storage, stables, and housing of enslaved persons over the history of Monticello. They fell into disrepair and were later reconstructed with white-painted “Chinese railings” similar to those at Monticello. However, recent research found that Jefferson intended for railings closer to a picket fence and a more natural green color to be used. Based on Jefferson’s descriptions and sketches, along with watercolor paintings of Monticello, new picket railings were designed and installed. Keast & Hood worked carefully with Monticello and MCWB Architects to incorporate steel elements into the picket fencing in order to satisfy the intent of modern structural railing codes for public assembly areas, while achieving an aesthetic of light wood fencing where steel is nearly undetectable to visitors at Monticello.
Historical research including drawings, written descriptions, and early images will be presented as well current drawings and in-progress and completed construction photos.
- Understand the structure and intent of Thomas Jefferson's original "terras" flat roof architecture.
- Describe a process by which necessary modern public safety codes for handrails were carefully incorporated into the original intent of Jefferson's historic architecture at Monticello.
- Describe a process by which a new flat roof was constructed within strict dimensional constraints to successfully achieve Jefferson's intended aesthetic while preserving and protecting the original historic materials at UVA.
- Understand structural considerations which should be carefully considered in future historic projects and strive towards structural solutions that integrate appropriately with goals of historic preservation.