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The ICA and What it Means for Richmond

  • February 22, 2017
  • Blog
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The ICA and What it Means for Richmond


VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art is set to open in the next few months. 

The LEED certified structure, designed by world-renowned architect Steven Holl, is shaping up to completely transform the busy corner at Belvedere and Broad Streets, and will surely become an iconic structure for Richmond and the Commonwealth. The exterior is already being wrapped in its final dressing…zinc for heaven’s sake! 

Infill within a historic district is always a tricky business, but the ICA makes zero apologies for being not just modern but in your face modern. The structure appears to have a great deal of heft, but at the same time is sweeping and whimsical. Peering over the ICA’s shoulder is the Neoclassical Prestwould condo building and dozens of other turn-of-the-century storefronts along Broad Street. There hasn’t been a new building constructed in the Broad/Belvedere corridor for decades, which to me, makes the wonderfully innovative ICA building a much-needed breath of fresh air.

Here are some of the basic facts from the ICA website about the new museum:

VCU’s 41,000-square-foot Institute for Contemporary Art will be an incubator for interdisciplinary experimentation for the entire university while simultaneously providing opportunities for collaboration both locally and internationally.

  • It will be in direct dialogue with the #1 public art school in the country set within a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research.
  • It will be centrally located on the East Coast in a city with a top-10 museum and a region with few venues for the latest contemporary art.
  • The building, which was designed by one of the world’s most important living architects, Steven Holl, will become an iconic gateway for the city of Richmond.
  • It will become a conduit for global collaboration, not only because of VCUarts’ campus in Qatar, which connects us directly to the Middle East, but it will also help bridge the distance to artists working in other regions internationally.

I spoke with museum director, the dynamic and very accomplished Lisa Freiman, about what she thinks the museum will mean to Richmond.  Here’s what Lisa had to say:  We are thrilled to unveil the ICA in October. Steven Holl Architects’ design provides a platform for deep experimentation and engagement. I am eager to open the ICA to our neighbors in Richmond, the VCU community, and the world as a welcoming forum for collaboration and dialogue. Our diverse program will introduce visitors to artists from around the world, offering a variety of perspectives to inspire new ways of thinking, create meaningful connections, and explore the central issues of our times.”

Now, that’s good stuff for our city and the community. Hope to see you all at the Grand Opening!

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