Apr 25, 2013

The new Rotunda roof (bottom) will soon be painted white to match the original (top), though some of us are digging the copper. Which look do you like best: paint or no paint?

  • Copper
  • White


  • White: 56%
  • Copper : 44%
  • Total Votes: 1674

Comments ( 23 )

Paige Linkins on 2013 05 10

The University of Virginia represents an important place in my personal, geographical, educational and family history and while the copper look may be aesthetically pleasing to some, I do not feel that it is in keeping with the historical and sentimental value this iconic building on the University’s campus represents to so many people, nor is it in keeping by any means with the architecture of the campus.  Furthermore, as much of its architecture is of Jeffersonian origin, as the founder contributed so much to the campus in this regard, it would not be fitting to keep the rotunda dome copper.  Moreover, if it is the copper look that is appealing, maintain the copper color may prove difficult and represent a financial burden to the school and or Virginian tax payers as copper will take on a verdigris appearance.  Thus, before we even talk about this, we need to look into what aesthetic effect we are trying to achieve by maintaining the naked copper appearance.

Bob Graham on 2013 05 10

I was so stoked to see the copper dome back, and was looking forward to it’s reacquiring the wonderful patina that it had until it was ruined by the restoration in the mid seventies.  I didn’t realize that painting was being considered.  What a disappointment.

Kirtlin Doyle on 2013 05 10

I strongly agree with Ms. Linkins.  While people may like the look of copper, remember in a few years it is going to turn green.  Paint it white!

HH on 2013 05 10

Jefferson’s original dome was actually a tin roof, which faded to an ashen grey color. After the 1895 fire, McKim, Meade, and White placed a copper dome on top–there are photos from the 60′s of the Rotunda with the brilliant green color which copper takes on after a while. It was only until the renovation in 1976 that the dome was painted white. That being said, the copper looks fantastic.

Jamie on 2013 05 10

To those afraid of green - there are clear guard applications for copper that prevent it from going green and lock in the color at the time of application. They require regular maintenance, but nothing UVa can’t handle like the rest of the Grounds.

Rusty Shackleford on 2013 05 10


to no-green people, here is an image of a copper domed rotunda, installed by McKim, Meade, and White.

Kevin sanders on 2013 05 10

My GGGGG grandfather Hugh Chisholm was a brick mason and built the rotunda and some of the Pavilion buildings   I vote white

Williard Smith on 2013 05 10

During my time in the School of Architecture at the University, 1958 - 1963, the Rotunda dome was oxidized copper.  To me, it just looked right that way.  I was shocked later when I first viewed it white and have never thought it looked exactly right after that.

Rossiferous on 2013 05 10

HH laid the historical perspective: original was tin which doesn’t last;  copper lasts a long time and with time turns a wonderful patina due to oxidation which actually protects the metal underneath.

Tradition on 2013 05 13

Those of you in favor of tradition might be interested to know that Jefferson had the original tin dome painted green to look like the patina of the copper that he wanted but could not afford. In favor of history, tradition, and aesthetics, I would love to see it stay copper!

Natural Beauty on 2013 05 21

The copper is spectacular - and incredibly expensive. I was sickened when I heard they were going to paint it white. If that was the intent, why not save the university some much needed resources and use a less expensive, but equal quality of metal? Keep the copper!!

CMilner on 2013 05 22

I changed my vote… After a week, I started liking the copper top. As a youngun, I was used to the white roof, but the copper look is becoming very appealing to me. I really like it now!

Winston B on 2013 06 06

Copper is expensive, and it’s already there, so it doesn’t make sense to paint over it. Yes, it’ll turn green, and that’ll be just fine.

George Spelvin on 2013 06 06

The dome has been dark in the past, too:



and medium dark for that matter:


Molly Schwartzburg on 2013 06 06

The photographs on this site do not do the copper justice. I can’t stop staring at it every time I walk by. It is absolutely beautiful when not surrounded by scaffolding, and I would love to see it slowly turn to a beautiful Parisian green patina—very much the aesthetic of Jefferson’s era. Please look at the other photos people have linked to here, and note that Jefferson did NOT have it painted white.

Rick Stillings on 2013 06 08

Leave it Cooper

Eric Newsome on 2013 06 10

COPPER! For all but 37 of 187 it was either tin painted to look like copper, or it was copper.  The dome should be copper, not just because of aesthetics and history, but because it matches the designers intent.

Dennis Roethlisberger on 2013 06 10

I recommend going with the white paint.  With the cost of copper and the resultant degradation in appearance as it corrodes, it will be a immediate and long term exceptional cost install and maintain.  The paint will be in keeping with original design and be less costly to maintain.

Sebring on 2013 06 10

I’ve done no research into the history of the Rotunda, but I cannot imagine why anyone would ever want to paint copper!  It is beautiful whether shiny and new or dull and green. Besides, it will cost no money to not paint it, and if in ten years everyone wishes it were white, paint it then! (however I doubt that this will be the case) Copper is by far the best roofing material there is and it lasts near forever!

Susanna on 2013 06 10

It is stunning now, and thanks to Rusty’s posting of the photo in the comments above, I am convinced the patina would be naturally beautiful if kept COPPER.

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