Driving past the historic intersection of Richmond’s Belvidere and Broad streets, architecturally minded visitors will no doubt spot the city’s new addition; the glowing Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), designed by New York-based, celebrated practice Steven Holl Architects.
Featuring Holl’s signature translucent white volumes in an elegant and flowing composition, the new building is not only the very first one that is entirely dedicated to contemporary art in town, but it is also set to provide the local community with a valuable new platform for discourse and experimentation.
‘We are delighted to open the ICA and welcome the Richmond, VCU, and art-world communities into the building,’ says ICA interim director Joseph H Seipel ‘Beginning with our inaugural exhibition Declaration, our programming will demonstrate the significant role the ICA will play in our vibrant community. Given our location on a major research university campus and our commitment to free admission, the ICA is well suited to serve as a forum for open dialogue, collaboration, and the exchange of perspectives.’
Symbolising this role of bridging of ideas, the building features two entrances – one towards the city’s art district, and another towards VCU’s Monroe Park campus. Inside, a striking 41,000 square feet of flexible space, including a mutli-use 33-foot-high central forum, will host a variety of shows over the year. Further facilities include a café, bar, store, learning spaces and a state-of-the-art, 240-seat auditorium. The galleries span three floors, with the top one also including administrative offices.
Sustainable technologies and environmentally conscious design elements ensure this is an eco-friendly building, as well as a community, visitor and art led one.
‘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,’ says 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 capitalise on the ingenuity and creativity apparent throughout the VCU campus.’
The ICA at VCU will open its doors to the public on the 21st April, and the inaugural show, Declarations, will run until the 9th September 2018.