Just last year, we received an email from the Virginia Center for Architecture that we had been nominated by the Virginia Architects Association and the Center as one of the top 250 architecturally significant structures in the Virginia. We were just so surprised and honored. To be counted among such places as Montpelier, Monticello and Mount Vernon. We were informed that December, 2013, there would be a public vote to select the top 100 for an exhibition at the Center.
December arrived and we called on all our supporter to vote and to help spread the word. We worked through our social media and reached out through our blog. At the end of December, when the voting polls were closed, we were informed that we were selected as one of the top 100! We were just so excited! Of course our first question was, “Where did we rank?”. But this question would have to wait for an answer until April 10th, the opening of the exhibition. The wait was long and the question would creep into my mind as I spoke with pride of being one of the top 100.
The day finally arrived yesterday and we were eager to answer the question. To our surprise, we did very well . . .
The votes are in and the people have spoken.
The Virginia Center for Architecture announced that Sweet Briar House at Sweet Briar College came out on top in a public poll to identify Virginia’s Favorite Architecture. The survey, which garnered nearly 30,000 votes, found that Virginians chose buildings that evoke powerful emotions and memories as their favorites. Universities and Thomas Jefferson claim most of the top 10, with an historic church and an iconic airport thrown into the mix.
“Keeping in mind that favorite doesn’t necessarily mean best, the results make it clear that we forge deep personal connections to architecture,” says Virginia Center for Architecture Executive Director Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA; “Buildings that hold sentimental value for us are just as meaningful as those that are considered to hold great architectural or historical significance.”
An exhibition titled Virginia’s Favorite Architecture opened on Thursday, April 10 at the Virginia Center for Architecture and highlights each of the 100 structures identified as Virginia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. The exhibition runs through Oct. 19.
So where did Belle Grove Plantation, birthplace of James Madison fall?
Through the wonderful support, Belle Grove Plantation came in 29th!
We just can’t believe it and are just so honored to be included with such wonderful places in Virginia!
Below you can see where some of your other favorites fell. You can also view the list and see more about the location on the Virginia Center for Architecture’s website at
Virginia’s Favorite Architecture: By the Numbers
* Thomas Jefferson is the architect appearing most frequently on the list, with 6 structures
* There are 7 places of worship on the list
* Schools and universities own or operate 12 structures on the list
* 1 structure hasn’t even been built yet: The VCU Institute for Contemporary Art
* Nearly all of the structures are cultural destinations: either museums, historic homes, memorials or entertainment venues
* The Richmond region boasts the most structures on the list with 32; the Blue Ridge region claims 23 (with 6 in the top 10); Northern Virginia has 18; the Hampton region has 16; and Central Virginia holds 11
About the Poll
At the end of 2013, the Virginia Center for Architecture and the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects conducted a public survey to determine Virginia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. Visitors to vacelebrates.org were invited to choose their favorites from among 250 buildings, bridges, monuments, and memorials. The structures were nominated by architects to represent Virginia’s rich architectural heritage. The “people’s choice” poll was not scientific. “Social media and alumni networks can have a measurable effect on public polls like this one,” says Rhea George, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Virginia Center for Architecture. “We tried to even the playing field a bit by allowing only one set of votes per IP address.”
About the Exhibition
An exhibition titled Virginia’s Favorite Architecture opens on Thursday, April 10 at the Virginia Center for Architecture and highlights each of the 100 structures identified as Virginia’s most beloved pieces of architecture. It is on view at the Virginia Center for Architecture through Oct. 19, 2014. The exhibition was designed by Roberto Ventura with curatorial support from Lauren Bell and Julie Pence.
About the Guest Curator
Roberto L. Ventura has practiced and taught modern and sustainable design in Virginia and North Carolina for 15 years. A member of a number of local teams earning design awards from AIA Richmond and the James River Green Building Council, his work has also been exhibited nationally through the HOME House Project sponsored by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. For the international light art exhibit InLight Richmond 2009, he collaborated with poet Joshua Poteat on the installation “for gabriel,” winning Best in Show.
While maintaining his practice, roberto ventura design studio, Ventura is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Interior Design in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has also taught Interior Architecture at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, and has lectured at the University of Oulu, in Oulu, Finland. Ventura holds a Master’s in Architecture from Miami University and a B.A. in Math and Physics from Albion College. He earned his LEED AP accreditation in 2008 and his NCIDQ certification in 2012.
About Virginia Celebrates Architecture
The Virginia’s Favorite Architecture exhibition is part of a year-long observance called Virginia Celebrates Architecture recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects. Throughout the year, members of the American Institute of Architects in Virginia will join their neighbors and the Virginia Center for Architecture in community exercises intended to instill a greater appreciation for proper stewardship of the Commonwealth’s built and natural environment.
About the Virginia Center for Architecture
The Virginia Center for Architecture is located in the Branch House at 2501 Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia’s historic Fan District. The Center is dedicated to developing the understanding of the power and importance of architecture through programs, exhibitions, and its stewardship of an historic landmark. The Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Learn more at www.architectureva.org.
About the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects
The Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects is a professional association representing nearly 2,500 members. Founded by 5 architects in 1914, the Virginia Society AIA has represented the professional interests of architects and allied professionals in the Commonwealth of Virginia for 100 years. For more information, contact the Virginia Society at (804) 644-3041 or visit www.aiava.org.
1. Sweet Briar House, Sweet Briar College, c. 1790 – Joseph Crews
Sweet Briar, Va.
2. Monticello, c. 1770 – Thomas Jefferson
3. Burruss Hall, Virginia Tech, 1936 – William Carneal and J. Ambler Johnston, AIA, of Carneal, Johnston & Wright, Architects and Engineers
4. Lumenhaus, Virginia Tech, 2009 – Center for Design Research, Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design, CAUS
5. The Academical Village, University of Virginia, 1822 – Thomas Jefferson
6. War Memorial Chapel and Pylons, Virginia Tech, 1960 – Roy F. Larson, FAIA, of Harbeson, Hough, Livingston & Larson
7. Washington Dulles International Airport, 1962 – Eero Saarinen and Associates
8. Moss Center for the Arts, Virginia Tech, 2013 – Snøhetta
9. Christ Church, 1773 – Col. James Wren
10. Poplar Forest, 1809 – Thomas Jefferson
11. Main Street Station, 1901 – Wilson, Harris and Richards Architects
11. Mount Vernon, 1735 – Augustine Washington
13. Maymont, 1893 – Edgerton S. Rogers
14. Virginia State Capitol, 1792 – Thomas Jefferson
15. The Rotunda, University of Virginia, 1826 – Thomas Jefferson
16. Governor’s Palace, 1722 – Henry Cary
17. Stratford Hall, 1730 – Col. Thomas Lee
18. Dovetail Construction Company, Inc., 2010 – Walter Parks Architect
18. Gunston Hall, 1759 – William Buckland and William Bernard Sears
20. The Sir Christopher Wren Building, The College of William and Mary, 1702 – Sir Christopher Wren
21. Capitol of Williamsburg, 1705 – Henry Cary
21. Lynchburg Courthouse and Monument Terrace, 1855/1924 – Andrew Ellison, Jr. (Courthouse) and Hurd and Chesterman (Staircase)
23. Shirley Plantation, 1738 – John Carter
Charles City, Va.
24. Smithfield Plantation, 1774 – Col. William Preston
25. The Jefferson Hotel, 1895 – Carrere and Hastings
26. Bruton Parish Episcopal Church, 1715 – Royal Governor Alexander Spottswood
27. Pope-Leighey House, 1940 – Frank Lloyd Wright
28. Humpback Covered Bridge, 1857 – Unknown
29. Belle Grove Plantation at Port Conway, 1790 – Unknown
Port Conway, Va.
30. Jamestown Fort, 1607 – Virginia Company
31. Montpelier, 1797 – Frances Taylor and Ambrose Madison
32. Old City Hall, 1894 – Elijah E. Myers
33. Bath Houses at the Warm Springs Pools, 1761 – Unknown
Warm Springs, Va.
34. United States Marine Corps War Memorial, 1954 – Edward F. Neild, Felix Weihs de Weldon (Sculptor)
35. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Conservatory, 2003 – Glavé & Holmes Architecture
36. Fort Monroe National Monument, 1834 – Brigadier General Simon Bernard
37. Broad Street Station/Science Museum of Virginia, 1919 – John Russell Pope, FAIA
38. Blue Ridge Tunnel, 1858 – Claudius Crozet, Engineer
Rockfish Gap, Va.
39. City Market, 1879 – Unknown
40. The Mosque/Altria Theater, 1927 – Marcellus Wright, Sr., FAIA, and Charles M. Robinson
40. Swannanoa, 1913 – Noland and Baskervill
42. Branch House/Virginia Center for Architecture, 1919 – John Russell Pope, FAIA
43. Martha Washington Inn, 1832 – built for Gen. Francis Preston
44. Adam Thoroughgood House, c. 1719 – Argall Thorowgood
Virginia Beach, Va.
44. Arlington House: The Robert E. Lee Memorial, 1818 – George Hadfield
46. Wickham House/Valentine Richmond History Center, 1812 – Alexander Parris
47. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Expansion, 2010 – Rick Mather + SMBW Architects PLLC
47. White House of the Confederacy, 1818 – Robert Mills
49. The VCU Institute for Contemporary Art, Unbuilt – Steven Holl Architects
50. Point of Honor, c. 1815 – built for George Cabell, Sr.
51. Egyptian Building, 1845 – Thomas Stewart
52. Taubman Museum of Art, 2008 – Randall Stout Architects
53. Washington and Lee University Chapel, 1868 – George Washington Custis Lee and Col. Thomas Williamson
54. Westover Plantation, 1734 – William Byrd, II
Charles City, Va.
55. National D-Day Memorial, 2001 – Dickson Architects and Associates
56. St. Andrews Catholic Church, 1902 – William P. Ginther, FAIA
57. Old Cape Henry Lighthouse, 1792 – John McComb, Jr.
Fort Story, Va.
57. The Homestead Hotel, 1892 – Yarnell and Goforth; Elzner and Anderson; and Warren and Wetmore
Hot Springs, Va.
59. The Pentagon, 1943 – George E. Bergstrom, FAIA, and David J. Witmer, FAIA
60. Bacon’s Castle, c. 1665 – built by Arthur Allen
61. McLean House at Appomattox Courthouse, 1848 – Charles Raine
62. Powder Magazine, 1715 – Royal Governor Alexander Spottswood
63. The Iron Fronts, 1869 – Franklin Sterns; William S. Donnan and John Asher
64. United States Air Force Memorial, 2006 – James Ingo Freed, FAIA, of Pei Cobb Freed and Partners
65. Siege Museum, 1841 – James Berrien
66. Mount Airy Plantation, 1764 – attributed to John Ariss
67. Norfolk Scope Arena, 1971 – Pier Luigi Nervi with Williams and Tazewell
68. National Museum of the Marine Corps, 2006 – Fentress-Bradburn Architects
68. Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, 1984 – Dewberry & Davis, and John MacFadyen, AIA and Joseph Boggs, FAIA
68. John Paul Jones Arena, 2006 – VMDO Architects
71. Rice House, 1965 – Richard Neutra, FAIA with Thaddeus Longstreth
71. Berkeley Plantation, 1726 – built by Benjamin Harrison, IV
Charles City, Va.
73. Virginia House, 1929 – Alexander and Virginia Weddell
74. Reynolds Homestead, 1843 – Hardin Williams Reynolds
75. Virginia Military Institute Barracks, 1839 – Alexander Jackson Davis
76. Long Branch Plantation, 1811 – Robert Carter Burwell with Benjamin Henry Latrobe
77. Agecroft Hall, 1927 – Homer G. Morse
77. Executive Mansion, 1813 – Alexander Parris
79. The Byrd Theatre, 1928 – Fred Bishop
80. Torpedo Factory Art Center, 1919 – U.S. Navy
81. Carter’s Grove Plantation, 1755 – built by David Minitree, James Wheatley, Richard Baylis, and Duncan Lee
James City, Va.
81. Barboursville, 1822 – Thomas Jefferson
81. Assateague Lighthouse, 1867 – Unknown
Assateague Island, Va.
84. Old Coast Guard Station, 1903 – George R. Tolman
Virginia Beach, Va.
85. Carlin’s Amoco Station, 1947 – George W. Terp
85. Tredegar Iron Works, 1837 – Reev Davis and others
87. Coffee Pot Building, 1959 – Kenneth Willis
88. Centre Hill Mansion, 1823 – built for Robert Bolling, IV
88. Monumental Church, 1814 – Robert Mills
88. White’s Mill, 1790 – Unknown
91. Scottsville Elementary School Addition, 1984 – VMDO
91. Stonewall Jackson House, c. 1801 – built for Cornelius Dorman
93. Hollin Hills, 1971 – Charles W. Goodman, FAIA
94. Woodlawn, 1800 – Dr. William Thornton
95. Ronald Reagan National Airport Expansion, 1997 – César Pelli, FAIA with Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
96. Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Birthplace, 1846 – Rev. Rufus W. Bailey
97. Rosewell, 1744 – Mann Page
98. Freemason Street Baptist Church, 1850 – Thomas U. Walter, FAIA
99. The Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium, 2006 – Carlton Abbott, FAIA of Carlton Abbott and Partners, P.C
99. Hampton Coliseum, 1970 – A.G. Odell, Jr. and Associates