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A Matter Of Geometry

May 2024
1min read

Westover (right) was constructed shortly after 1730 by William Byrd II (1674-1744). It is widely regarded as the most distinguished Georgian residence in America. Originally it consisted of a freestanding main house flanked by a kitchen and a library. The library was destroyed by fire during the Civil War and was reconstructed on its original foundations early in the twentieth century. During that time the narrow passages called hyphens were added, joining the main house to its dependencies. As the drawing below shows, the house’s proportions are derived from simple geometric units. The facade is composed of two adjacent squares. Their bases anchor an equilateral triangle, the apex of which reaches the peak of the roofline. Intersecting arcs, whose radii equal the sides of the squares and whose center points are at the squares’ highest corners, determine the level of the first floor.

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