institute for contemporary art by steven holl set to break ground
original content
may 13, 2014
institute for contemporary art by steven holl set to break ground

institute for contemporary art by steven holl set to break ground
all images courtesy of steven holl architects




work is set to get underway at virginia commonwealth university‘s ‘institute for contemporary art‘ in richmond, USA. designed by internationally acclaimed architect steven holl, the multidisciplinary institution will facilitate visual art, theater, music, dance and film performances for both academic and public audiences, in collaboration with the VCU school of the arts.


the 38,000 square foot building forms an important civic gateway, with one entrance oriented to face the city and the other fronting VCU’s neighboring campus. internally, a double-height atrium serves as a flexible volume, encouraging both spontaneous interaction and planned events.

a landscaped garden surrounds the building at ground floor level




individual galleries branch out from this central hub, encircling an external area of recreation. fluid circulation routes dissolve formalities often associated with traditional facilities of this type. three connected levels of gallery space extend throughout the structure, allowing visitors to traverse the building naturally through a number of different routes.

reception space and entry forum within the design




the program also includes a 247-seat auditorium, a cafe, classrooms and office space, with the intention of forming an educational and cultural resource for the city. accessed through large pivoting doors, the ground level boundary is blurred to create a seamless transition from inside to out.


externally, the institute’s walls are pre-weathered, with a satin finish complimenting the structure’s urban setting. additional clear and translucent glass divisions create transparency, inviting natural light to enter during the day and radiating illuminance at night.

rendering of the naturally lit first floor gallery




from an environmental perspective, geothermal wells heat and cool the building, with green roofs providing insulation and absorbing storm water runoff. additionally, curtain walls exhaust the strong solar gain of summer while insulating against the cold winter weather.

steven holl institute for contemporary art designboom
watercolor drawing of the building’s entry forum




‘we have designed the building to be a flexible, forward-looking instrument that can illuminate the transformative possibilities of contemporary art, like many contemporary artists working today, the ICA’s design does not draw distinctions between the visual and performing arts. the fluidity of the design allows for experimentation, and will encourage new ways to display and present art that will capitalize on the ingenuity and creativity apparent throughout the VCU campus’, explained steven holl.


UPDATE: on may 12, 2014 it was announced that construction work will get underway on-site in june 2014. work is expected to last two years, with the arts complex opening its doors to the public in 2016.

steven holl institute for contemporary art designboom
watercolor indicating the immediate context of the institute

model of virginia commonwealth university’s institute for contemporary art looking southeast

elevational cross section, again looking southeast

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