VCU Plans March Kickoff for $51M Library Upgrade, Expansion

Virginia Commonwealth University’s James Branch Cabell Library is getting a makeover. A $50.8 million construction project will renovate and expand the more than 40-year-old library on the Monroe Park Campus. Work will start next March and is expected to be completed in September 2015.

Virginia Commonwealth University plans a March kickoff for a $50.8 million makeover of James Branch Cabell Library, which serves more students than any facility of its kind in the Commonwealth. Work on the 156,000-square-foot project is expected to be completed in September 2015.

Cabell Library opened in 1970 as a two-story structure and added three floors in 1975. It was built to serve 17,000 students and house two million volumes. Today, its constituency has nearly doubled to 32,000 students, ranking it as the Commonwealth’s busiest academic library. At the same time, Cabell now offers the lowest ratio of square footage per student any university library in Virginia.

To address that disparity, the expansion will add 93,000 square feet, much of it geared to students and faculty. Another 63,000 square feet of existing space will be improved. Items on the to-do list include a new entrance facing Shafer Court, media creation space, more space for special collections and archives, a flexible, presentation and event space, glass facades, exhibition and event space for arts programs, and an expanded Starbucks.

“VCU’s new library will have the most prominent spot on campus of any library building in Virginia, and more students will use it each day than any other library in the commonwealth,” said John Ulmschneider, university librarian, in a statement. “I cannot imagine a building anywhere in Virginia that will be more visible to students, faculty, and visitors, affect more students, or have a greater impact on student success.”

The library, which will remain open during the renovation, will be a candidate for LEED Silver certification.

Photo credit: Virginia Commonwealth University