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Steven Holl Architects' Institute for Contemporary Art comprised of intersected volumes opens at VCU

United States - Apr 16, 2018 - 05:05   2429 views

Steven Holl Architects has completed a new contemporary art and cultural complex at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, which will officially open to the public on April 21, 2018. The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA)'s new building - called Markel Center, will be a new cultural catalyst with its dynamic exhibition and programming spaces that can support widely varied forms of contemporary art.

The new complex will debut with its inaugural exhibition titled "Declaration", an exploration of contemporary art’s power to respond to pressing social issues through the voices of 34 emerging and established artists from Richmond and around the globe.

Aerial view of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

Built as VCU’s first art institution dedicated exclusively to exhibiting contemporary art, Holl's new building will be a significant cultural resource for Richmond and VCU, in direct dialogue with the VCU School of the Arts, which was ranked at number 1 on public school of art and design list in the U.S.

View of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU Garden at dusk

Situated at the historic intersection of Richmond’s Belvidere and Broad streets, the ICA’s striking new building, the Markel Center, anchors one of the city’s busiest gateways. The design features a strong architectural language through its intersecting volumes, enveloped by clear-and translucent-glass walls and skylights to help infuse the building with natural light and lessen reliance on nonrenewable energy.

The building includes dual entrances opening to the city’s arts district on one side and VCU’s Monroe Park campus on the other, the ICA acts as a gateway for a connection between the two vibrant communities on both sides.

View of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU Garden at dusk

Encompassing a total of 41,000 square feet of flexible space, including an inviting 33-foot-high central forum, the ICA will feature a dynamic slate of changing exhibitions, performances, films, and interdisciplinary programs. 

"Envisioned as a forum for collaboration and conversation, the ICA will serve as an incubator for innovation, piloting curatorial and educational programs. Its fluid spaces are designed to support the diverse practices characteristic of the art of today, mirroring VCU’s collaborative approach and supporting the varied needs of contemporary art and audiences," said Steven Hall Architects.

View of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU from Belvidere Street at dusk

The studio creates continuity between the interior and exterior spaces by using glass walls and windows. On the first floor, a 4,000-square-foot gallery, café, bar, and concept shop radiate from the ICA’s central forum and frame an outdoor garden. 

A special garden, called the “Thinking Field”, will be used for social gatherings and public programs. The first floor also features a state-of-the-art, 240-seat auditorium for film screenings, performances, lectures, and other programs. The second floor includes two forking galleries and an adaptable “learning lab” for interactive engagement.

Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU Markel Center at night

It also includes a publicly accessible terrace, featuring one of four green roofs. The third floor features a gallery with soaring, 33-foot-high walls and houses one of the administrative suites and the boardroom. Additional staff offices are located in the building’s lower level, which also includes a lobby for visitors, art storage and preparation facilities, a fabrication workshop, a green room, the catering kitchen, and general storage.

True Farr Luck upper gallery in the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

"We designed the ICA to be a flexible, forward-looking instrument that will both illuminate and serve as a catalyst for the transformative possibilities of contemporary art," said Steven Holl. 

"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," Holl added.

View of the Royall Forum at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

"In keeping with VCU’s master sustainability plan, the ICA’s design incorporates state-of-the-art technologies and environmentally conscious design elements and makes use of numerous natural resources. The pre-weathered, satin-finish zinc exterior of the Markel Center, which houses the ICA, includes interspersed clear-and translucent-glass walls and skylights that infuse the building with natural light and lessen reliance on nonrenewable energy," stated the firm in its project description. 

View of second floor galleries in the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

The studio also uses geothermal wells to provide heating and cooling energy for the building, and four green roofs absorb storm water, offset carbon emissions, and maximize insulation. The architects used native plantings around the building, including wood oats, little bluestem, Pennsylvania sedge, and goldenrod. 

View of second floor galleries in the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

The architects used Virginia bluestone and custom glass cavity walls for the building's materials, to exhaust heat in the summer and harness it in the winter. The project is designed to meet LEED Gold Certification standards.

View of the True Farr Luck gallery with artist Lee Mingwei’s The Mending Project, 2018 in the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

View of Beverly W. Reynolds gallery on the first floor in the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

View of the Royall Forum at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

Auditorium in the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

View of elevator interior at the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

Aerial view of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU

Steven Holl Architetcs' kite-like Winter Visual Arts Center recently broke ground in Lancaster. The studio is currently working on a new museum and hotel in France. Steven Holl Architects' opened its latest exhibition at Dorsky Museum in New York, with "worth-seeing" models. The exhibition can be visited until July 15, 2018 at the Morgan Anderson Gallery and Howard Greenberg Family Gallery of Dorsky Museum in New York.

Top image: View of the Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU Belvidere Street entrance at dusk

All images © Iwan Baan 

> via Steven Holl Architects