Supporting the Genius of Thomas Jefferson

by Rakks | September 30th, 2010

Rakks shelving and shelf systems used for the Virginia State Capitol Building gift shop

For more than 200 years, The Virginia State Capitol has reigned supreme as one of the great pieces of architecture in the United States and to this day, retains its picturesque presence in Richmond. In 1780, the state summoned the venerable Thomas Jefferson to design and build the structure. Jefferson was working as the American Ambassador to France at the time and became a great fan of the French architect, Charles-Louis Clérisseau. As homage to French architecture, and the architect, the design of the main portion of the building is modeled after the extraordinary Maison Carree in Nimes, France. The first block was laid in August of 1785. Three years later, the General Assembly met in the building for the first time. The original building was red brick, but 15 years later the brick was covered with Stucco and continues to stand that way today.

Led by RMJM Hillier Architecture, the addition of an underground extension beginning in 2006 received the AIA Richmond Chapter’s 2008 Design Award for Public/Government offices, with the project noted as a “significant example of scholarly restoration of a major landmark structure”. As the mission statement of the latest restoration project explains, “[These efforts must] continue the vitality of Virginia’s 216 year-old working Capitol by sustaining the integrity, viability, and dignity of the Capitol as a symbol of a prosperous and democratic Commonwealth”. For such a revered building, Rakks glass shelving systems were designed in pole-mounted configurations created by using PD6 poles and Rakks brackets to provide ample support to display gift shop items and add to the space’s overall feeling of openness. Additionally, Rakks contemporary design creates a pleasing textural counterpoint to the historical memorabilia sold in the shop.

By combining the aesthetics of historic design and adding modern features such as a Visitor’s Center, café, and gift shop, the Capitol has met and even exceeded the aesthetic expectations for a modern design implementation that integrates seamlessly into the building’s origins from Thomas Jefferson’s 1785 vision.

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