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Tektonics Design Group: Want to See Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda Capitals Right Here in Manchester?

We couldn’t be more proud to have Manchester’s very own Tektonics Design Group on point for such a critical part of the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Rotunda at The University of Virginia.

Tektonics, a Manchester-based industrial design firm, is helping restore a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s practically in RVA’s backyard—Jefferson’s University of Virginia campus. According to UNESCO, “the Academical Village still forms the heart of the University of Virginia, and exhibits a unique U-shaped plan dominated by the Rotunda with pavilions, hotels, student rooms, and gardens arrayed in rows to its south. The buildings are excellent and highly personalized examples of Neoclassicism, shown in their relationship to the natural setting and their blending of functionalism and symbolism. They were inspired by deep study of classical and contemporary examples and reflect Jefferson’s aspirations for the character of the new American republic.”


When the University of Virginia began its long-planned renovation and restoration of the Rotunda, their architects knew a key element would involve the recreation of the original Composite Corinthian capitals that ringed the interior of the Dome Room. Tektonics Design Group, which has been based in Manchester since 2003, was selected to design and fabricate the 40 reproduction capitals for the Rotunda in as close to original detail as possible. This proved challenging, as the devastating 1895 fire that gutted the Rotunda also destroyed a great deal of primary source material and documentation related to its construction, thereby limiting resource materials.  Working from select nineteenth-century photographs (and under the guidance of the University of Virginia preservationists) Tektonics went through a year-long modeling, design, & prototyping phase before jumping into full-scale production mode of the capitals in the fall of 2015. By integrating 21st-century advanced design and manufacturing with traditional handcraft and sculptural techniques, the team at Tektonics developed a process to reproduce Jefferson’s 40 capitals—carved from solid mahogany–in just five months.

IMG_0976The capitals are due to be installed later this spring, but there’s time to see them and learn more about the project. Join the Washington Mid-Atlantic ICAA and AIA Richmond for a tour through Tektonics shop, see the story of the design and fabrication of the recreation capitals, and hear a talk on the significance of Jefferson’s classicism from renowned architectural historian and Jefferson scholar, Carroll William Westfall.

Date: Friday, April 15

Time: 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

Cost:  This is a FREE event and open to the General Public, but reservations are required

Light refreshment will be served



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