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VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art officially opens

Steven Holl Architects designed the building.

April 23, 2018 |
The ICA at VCU

Photo: Iwan Baan

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) recently opened the Institute for Contemporary Art in Richmond, Va., at the intersection of Belvidere and Broad streets.

The modern, stacked-block facility incorporates a pre-weathered, satin-finish zinc facade and will act as a gateway between the city’s arts district on one side and VCU’s Monroe Park campus on the other. The facility includes 41,000 sf of flexible space organized around a 33-foot-high central forum that will feature a slate of changing exhibitions, performances, films, and interdisciplinary programs.


The ICA at VCUPhoto: Iwan Baan.


Glass walls and windows create continuity between the interior and exterior spaces of the building. The first floor includes a 4,000-sf gallery, cafe, bar, and concept shop that fan out from the central forum and frame the outdoor “Thinking Field” garden. This garden will be used for social gatherings and public programs. Also located on the first floor is a 240-seat auditorium for film screenings, performances, and lectures.

The second floor features two forking galleries and an adaptable learning lab for interactive engagement. A publicly accessible terrace that features one of the four green roofs is also included. On the third floor is a gallery with 33-foot-high walls, one of the administrative suites, and a boardroom. The lower level houses additional staff offices, a lobby for visitors, art storage and preparation facilities, a fabrication workshop, a green room, the catering kitchen, and general storage.


See Also: Activating exteriors as gallery space


Numerous environmental considerations are also included such as the use of geothermal wells for heating and cooling energy, four green roofs, native landscaping, and clear and translucent glass walls and skylights for abundant natural light. The project is designed to meet LEED Gold Certification.


Interior of the ICA at VCUPhoto: Iwan Baan.

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