Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA)
Steven Holl Architects

May 07, 2012 /

Richmond, Virginia, USA

Rendering courtesy Steven Holl Architects

Sited at the edge of the Virginia Commonwealth University campus in Richmond, Virginia, the new Institute for Contemporary Art will link the University with the surrounding community.

Part exhibition and performance space, part lab and incubator, the ICA will feature a series of flexible programming spaces for the presentation of visual art, theater, music, dance and film by nationally and internationally recognized artists.

At the heart of the building will be an inviting, double-height "forum," a flexible space for both spontaneous encounters and planned events that connects to the ground-floor performance space and also opens to the sculpture garden and cafe.

Sketch courtesy Steven Holl Architects

We have designed the building to be a flexible, forward-looking instrument that can illuminate the transformative possibilities of contemporary art.

/Steven Holl

Rendering courtesy Steven Holl Architects
The building will form a gateway to the University, with an inviting sense of openness, on the busiest intersection of Richmond at Broad and Belvidere,

The main entrance is formed by an intersection of the performance space and forum, adding a vertical "Z" component to the "X-Y" movement of the intersection. The torsion of these intersecting bodies is joined by a "plane of the present" to the galleries in "forking time."

The idea of "forking time" suggests that in the world of contemporary art there are many parallel times. The notion of one ongoing time and its "grand narrative" of history is questioned.

/Steven Holl


Sketch courtesy Steven Holl Architects

Paved in bluestone gravel, the garden is planted with gingko trees. A large reflecting pond of recycled water shapes the sense of this garden as a "thinking field." Pivot doors allow opening events to spill out into the garden.

Rendering courtesy Steven Holl Architects

Rendering courtesy Steven Holl Architects

The building is organized in four galleries, each with a different character. that radiate out from the forum in forked arms. Flexibility allows for four separate exhibitions, one continuous exhibition, or combinations. Galleries can be closed for installations without affecting the circulation to the others. As flexible spaces, the galleries can accept suspended art or projects anchored to the floor slab.

Model photo courtesy Steven Holl Architects

The exterior walls of pre-weathered satin-finish zinc will complement its urban setting. Additional clear and translucent glass walls will create transparency, bringing natural light into the building during the day and radiating light at night, signaling the activities taking place within.

Sketch courtesy Steven Holl Architects

In advancement of VCU's commitment to science, technology, and environmental responsibility, the ICA's design incorporates many environmentally-friendly elements, making use of natural resources whenever possible. This includes the use of geothermal wells to provide heating and cooling energy for the building, green roofs to absorb storm water and maximize insulation, and glass walls designed to exhaust heat in the summer and harness it in the winter. The project is designed to meet LEED platinum certification standards.

Sketch courtesy Steven Holl Architects

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan Level One

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan Level Two

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan Level Three

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsPlan Roof Level
Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSection

Drawing courtesy Steven Holl ArchitectsSection

Facts about Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA)

Total building area:

35,000 ft2

Estimated completion: 2015

Design architects:
Steven Holl, Chris McVoy

Project architect:

Dimitra Tsachrelia

Project Team:

Garrick Ambrose
Scott Fredricks
Gary He
Christina Yessios

Associate architect:

BCWH Architects

Structural engineer:

Robert Silman Associates

Mechanical engineer:


Landscape architect:

Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture

Lighting consultant:

L'Observatoire International

Audio/Visual consultant:

Convergent Technologies Design Group, Inc.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

See also

Copyright 1999 - 2017 arcspace all rights reserved.