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New Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU in Richmond

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Rendering of the exterior of the Steven Holl-designed Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, slated for completion in 2016.
Rendering of the exterior of the Steven Holl Architects Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, slated for completion in 2017.

A major new venue for contemporary art will soon rise in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University. Next month, the university will break ground on its new Institute for Contemporary Art, scheduled to open in 2016.

SCAD - Derrick Adams

Designed by Steven Holl Architects, the 43,000-square-foot ICA will be sited at the corner of Broad and Belvidere streets in the Downtown Arts District. Holl has designed such notable buildings as the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki and the Simmons Hall dormitory at MIT in Cambridge, and is working on the new Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and the Visual Arts Building for the University of Iowa.

The building, clad in satin-finish zinc, will feature three gallery levels radiating out from an open “forum” that will facilitate visitor flow and thematic connections across spaces.

So far, the ICA has raised nearly $31 million toward its $35-million capital campaign, and is raising another $20 million for an endowment. In recognition of a major gift from the Markel Corporation, the building will be called the Markel Center.  Other prominent donors include ICA campaign co-chairs Steve and Kathie Markel and Pam and Bill Royall, as well as True and Charlie Luck, Meg and John Gottwald, Abby W. Moore, the NewMarket Corporation, the Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, the VCU Real Estate Foundation, and Carolyn K. and John W. Snow. 

A non-collecting institution, the ICA will complement the city’s existing Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, offering more cutting-edge and contemporary exhibitions in keeping with the multidisciplinary curriculum at the VCU School of the Arts, one of the top art programs in the country.

ICA director Lisa Freiman said, “We are humbled and inspired by the generosity of our founding supporters. The ICA is an extraordinary gift to this and future generations, and we look forward to bringing this institution to life with the continued support of our community.”

Freiman joined the VCA ICA last year after serving as senior curator and chair of the contemporary art department at the Indianapolis Museum of Art from 2002 to 2013. She was also commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, which featured sculptures and performances by the Puerto Rico-based duo Allora & Calzadilla.

Rendering of the exterior and garden of the Steven Holl-designed Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, slated for completion in 2016.
Rendering of the exterior and garden of the Steve Holl Architects Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, slated for completion in 2016.