ViCU Plans June Groundbreaking for Arts Center; Name to Honor Markel Corp. Gift

Virginia Commonwealth University will break ground this June on the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). The new center will be a combination exhibition and performance space. It will include a laboratory and incubator for the presentation of visual art, theater, music, dance and film, helping to complement and enhance the offerings of VCU.

Virginia Commonwealth University will break ground next month on its new Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). Billed as a combination exhibition and performance space., the 43,000-square-foot facility will include a laboratory and incubator of visual art, theater, music, dance and film.

Scheduled to open in 2016, the ICA will be located within Richmond’s newly designated Downtown Arts District, atBroad and Belvidere streets.  The project will be mostly primarily funded. VCU officials said in a statement that the school has raised nearly $31 million toward its $35 million goal. A $20 million endowment campaign is also under way.

Markel Corp., the Richmond-based financial services company, has made a generous donation to the project. In recognition, the VCU Board of Visitors voted to name the new building the Markel Center.

Steven Holl Architects designed it with dual entrances, one facing Richmond, the other facing the  VCU campus. A double-height “forum” will be located at the heart of the building. Three levels of galleries will radiate from the forum in a forked arm-like configuration. The building’s exterior will feature walls of pre-weathered, satin-finish zinc as well as clear and translucent glass, allowing natural light to enter during the day and radiate out at night.

“The ICA will be vital to the creative ecology of VCU and the community,” said VCU President Michael Rao, 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 working across the university, the nation and the globe.”

“This institute will also be a significant beacon in Richmond in terms of economic and cultural development and bringing the arts community from around the world to our great city,” Rao added. “The ICA will help put Richmond on the global map as an arts destination.”

Photo credits: Virginia Commonwealth University