The Biltmore Estate - A Great Plan

design Jun 08, 2018

As I was touring the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC I was fascinated by the amount of planning that went into this building. It got me thinking about how we as designers deal with the same issues that the Architect Richard Morris Hunt dealt with when designing this incredible mansion.

Albeit his challenges were on a bit more grandiose scale and substantially more extensive than I could ever imagine.

Dan Baumann and his wife Andrea at the Biltmore Estate

Vision: Someone had to have a vision of what was possible. George Vanderbilt found what he was looking for in Ashville, NC. His Architect was able to ask the right questions of George to get the information he needed to come up with a plan that would fulfill the intended vision.

Budget: Geroge Vanderbilt had a vision and the money to back it. That's not something most Architects and designers have the luxury of designing with today. We usually have a budget and need to design within the constraints of that budget while helping our clients realize as much of their vision as possible.

Some of the other things that the Architect had to consider:

  • How the land was to be preserved and enhanced
  • The positioning if the building to get the best views
  • Space planning for guests
  • Space planning for servants (Employees)
  • Use of materials throughout the building
  • The intended use of each room
  • How would the traffic flow work throughout the home
  • Logistics of the backend of house
  • Location and type of mechanical and other elements
  • The use of the latest technology of the day
  • Display of specialty items. ie, Artwork, Furniture, etc.
  • Structural Elements to achieve the goals if the building
  • Fire Resistance. There is no wood in the structure of the building
  • and so much more.

While the Biltmore is an extreme example of fantastic architecture and the dedication of a lot of very talented people, there are a lot of similarities in the process of creating any project.

If I had one wish today, it would be that more people would slow down and spend more time on the planning of their projects.

In this fast-paced world we live in all too often the design process is treated as an afterthought of the process when it should be treated as the most important part of the process. 

With a great plan, you'll have a great project!

Below are some pictures if the actual model created for this project along with some floor plans. The construction started in 1890 and took over 1,000 people 5 years to build. 

Here is a PDF of all of the pictures on this page