Designed by one of the world’s most influential architects, VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art will be an iconic new landmark for the city of Richmond and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The ICA is currently under construction at one of the most prominent crossroads in Richmond, the corner of Broad and Belvidere streets, just off of Interstate 95. When its completed, the ICA will create a striking new gateway to the city and to VCU, thanks to an elegant design by Steven Holl Architects.

The ICA’s exterior walls will be sheathed in pre-weathered satin-finish zinc. Additional clear- and translucent-glass walls will allow natural light into the building during the day; in the evening it will radiate light, revealing the activities within. With nearly 41,000 square feet of flexible space, the ICA will showcase changing exhibitions of contemporary art and ongoing public programs, performances, and films from around the world. The building will have two entrances leading into an inviting, 33-foot-high forum. One entrance will open up to the city and the other towards VCU’s Monroe Park campus, welcoming both community and university participation in the ICA.

Steven Holl Architects designed the forum for both spontaneous encounters and planned events. On the first floor, there will be a 240-seat auditorium for ever-changing live performances, film screenings, and lectures. Additionally, there will be a gift shop, named for Frances Lewis, and a café, named by Abby Moore, which will open to a beautiful sculpture garden furnished with outdoor seating, a reflecting pool, and space for special events, performances and installations. In addition to the flexible forum space,  four main galleries, including one named for True Luck, may host large exhibitions split among the galleries, or separate exhibitions in each gallery.

The ICA is working to ensure that it will earn LEED certification with its new building, which will mean lower operating costs, less environmental impact and a healthier environment for those using the facility. To achieve a LEED certification, great care has been paid to incorporate environmentally-friendly systems and resources whenever possible, including the use of geothermal wells for heating and cooling the building, three green roofs to absorb storm water and maximize insulation, and glass walls designed to exhaust heat in the summer and harness it in the winter. BCWH is the architect of record in Richmond.


Based in New York City and Beijing, Steven Holl Architects has been internationally recognized with many of architecture’s most prestigious awards, most recently the AIA 2012 Gold Medal Award. Holl  was named America’s Best Architect by Time Magazine for “buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye.”