Having designed University of Virginia buildings in Charlottesville, as well as Virginia’s state capitol building in Richmond, Thomas Jefferson is often referred to as America’s first great native-born architect. Though classicism was his foundation, his distinctly American buildings incorporate a wide range of design ideas -- much as the United States of America came to incorporate a variety of diverse and vibrant cultures.
There were no architectural schools in colonial Virginia, and thus Jefferson had to learn architecture from books. His guiding light was Andrea Palladio's The Four Books of Architecture, which taught him the rules of classical design. Jefferson also looked around him, to the contemporary world of the 18th century, for architectural inspirations. His work as an architect lives on, as does his political philosophy.