Virginia Commonwealth University to break ground in June on art institute

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Virginia Commonwealth University plans to break ground in June on the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). The 43,000-square-foot arts institute will be built at the corner of Broad and Belvidere streets in Richmond’s newly designated Downtown Arts District.

It will be a combination exhibition/ performance space that includes a laboratory and incubator for the presentation of visual art, theater, music, dance and film.

Steven Holl Architects is designing the project, which is a non-collecting museum. It’s expected to open in 2016.

“The ICA will be vital to the creative ecology of VCU and the community,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a statement. “Creative problem-solving skills are essential in our world today, and this institution will bring new resources to our students and faculty … “ Rao also hailed the institute as “a significant beacon in Richmond in terms of economic and cultural development … The ICA will help put Richmond on the global map as an arts destination.”

The ICA has raised nearly $31 million toward its $35 million goal for construction. A $20 million endowment campaign is ongoing. VCU’s board of visitors has approved the use of a line of credit to provide the short-term financing so that construction can begin.

In recognition of an important gift from the Henrico County-based Markel Corp., the VCU Board of Visitors approved naming the new building the Markel Center.

Other gifts have come from ICA Campaign co-chairs Steve and Kathie Markel, Pam and Bill Royall, and donors True and Charlie Luck, Meg and John Gottwald, Abby W. Moore, the NewMarket Corp., the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the VCU Real Estate Foundation and Carolyn K. and John W. Snow.

“We are proud to have Markel Corp. associated with such an important institution and work of architecture, intended to welcome diverse communities and serve as a hub of creativity for our city,” Steve Markel, said the company’s vice chairman.

Located off Interstate 95 and at one of Richmond’s busiest intersections, the ICA will provide a new gateway to the university and the city. It will feature dual entrances — one facing Richmond and the other fronting VCU’s campus.

Three levels of galleries will be linked through an open forum space, allowing artists to create works that extend across, and visitors to circulate through, the spaces via a variety of paths. Exterior walls of pre-weathered, satin-finish zinc will complement the project’s urban setting. The walls will be clear and translucent glass, bringing natural light into the building during the day.

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