For more than 30 years, the University of Virginia Press inhabited the small but lovely Bemiss House across from the main Grounds. But with expanding titles from authors around the world, a growing staff, and plans for more events and programming as it approached the 21st century, it become clear that the Press needed more room.
As with everything on Mr. Jefferson’s campus, a design that would nearly double the size of Bemiss House had to support the aesthetics of the original structure and blend in with the university’s architectural vocabulary.
We answered the call by designing a separate addition in the rear, connected to the existing building with a bridge and breezeway in an “H” design reminiscent of Tuckahoe Plantation, Thomas Jefferson’s boyhood home. Brick arches, Chinese Chippendale balconies resembling those on U.Va.’s Lawn and at Monticello, and other details large and small make for a seamless connection to the original house. A new lower courtyard has become a favorite space for events and informal gatherings.
The new design has allowed the Press to expand and operate more efficiently, providing a more comfortable and welcoming work environment for its directors, staff and visitors. At the same time, the addition’s new building systems have helped reduce operating costs and ease maintenance.