VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art will drive new development, director says
Why is a new contemporary art institute significant for Richmond? VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art will add to the city’s sense of distinction and help drive new economic development, the institute’s director Lisa Freiman said Wednesday.
In remarks to the Richmond chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women, Freiman said nearly $33 million of a $37 million funding goal has been raised for the facility, designed by Steven Holl, an award-winning New York architect. With its multiple galleries, including a 36-foot high third-floor gallery, modern design and outdoor sculpture garden and plaza, Holl designed the building as a gateway between the university and the city.
Construction got underway at the building’s site last month at the intersection of Broad and Belvedere, not far from Interstate 95 near Virginia Commonwealth University.
The intersection is one of the city’s busiest, with 60,000 cars passing through it every day, said Freiman. She predicts the ICA will be an economic spark for the area. “A lot of economic transformation is coming in, restaurants, boutiques, even a petite Wal-Mart,” Freiman said, referring to a new convenience-store size Wal-Mart that will occupy ground-floor space in a seven-story classroom-and-office building under construction on Grace Street on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.
The center will have double entrances, one facing Richmond at the intersection and another fronting VCU’s campus.
Freiman noted that Richmond already is ahead of many cities in terms of having a distinct sense of place because of its well-preserved historical structures. This pleasing and unique aesthetic is lacking in many American cities, Freiman told the real estate group, where similar large-box retailers tend to build the same size and type stores.
While Richmond already has many museums, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the new institute will fulfill a specific niche of showcasing contemporary art and by providing a museum space for VCU, one of the country’s top-rated art schools, Freiman said.
It will function as a noncollecting institution, showcasing a changing array of exhibitions not only by VCU artists, “but the best of contemporary art from around the world,” said Freiman. She predicts that the 43,000-square-foot institute “will create opportunities for cultural tourism and community revitalization.”
The building’s exterior walls will be done in zinc. Clear and translucent glass walls will create transparency, bringing natural light into the building. Freiman said the building, with 43 geothermal wells, three green roofs and other sustainable building features, plans to seek platinum certification from LEED, the highest rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
VCU announced on Tuesday the naming of the first-floor gallery in the Markel Center of the Institute for Contemporary Arts in honor of Beverly W. Reynolds, a longtime gallery owner, VCU School of the Arts advocate and a community leader in the arts.
The tribute to Reynolds was made possible by gifts to the ICA fundraising campaign in her honor by more than 80 donors and a recent significant contribution by her close friends, Harmon and George Logan of Charlottesville. Campaign co-chairs Pam and Bill Royall and ICA donors Carolyn and John Snow also directed a portion of their gifts in her honor, bringing the total gifts and pledges in Reynolds’ name to $3 million.
“It is appropriate and wonderful that one of the most prominent spaces in the ICA be named for Bev Reynolds, one of the most prominent supporters of the arts in our city’s history,” VCU President Michael Rao said in a statement. “Bev has been a catalyst in bringing innovative and inspiring works of art to Richmond for many years, and her impact on the campaign for the ICA has been just as profound. Her generosity, vision and spirit have inspired so many others, and I am proud that her transformative and indelible legacy will be permanently honored at the ICA.”