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VCU Institute for Contemporary Art

Richmond, VA
  • Photo credit: Iwan Baan.

With its landmark geometric form and double entryway, Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) new Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) acts as a gateway connecting the surrounding community to the VCU campus. The LEED Gold certified structure houses multiple gallery spaces, a café, a 240-seat auditorium as well as classroom and workshop space.

The superstructure for the ICA consists of three different systems: cast-in-place concrete, precast concrete hollow core plank, and steel framing with concrete-on-metal-deck, all supported on a reinforced concrete mat foundation.

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Superstructure

ICA’s three superstructure systems were woven together throughout the building to create the desired interior aesthetic; to reduce the weight of the building bearing on the foundation; and to achieve its complex architectural form, which includes a distinctive curving and sloping north wall and long concrete forking galleries.

Superstructure

ICA’s three superstructure systems were woven together throughout the building to create the desired interior aesthetic; to reduce the weight of the building bearing on the foundation; and to achieve its complex architectural form, which includes a distinctive curving and sloping north wall and long concrete forking galleries.

Taking advantage of the 8-inch cavity within the wall assembly and the approximately 20-foot floor-to-ceiling height, Silman designed the walls of the cantilevering gallery volumes as deep concrete beams. This allowed for the length of the upper galleries, ranging from 55 to 70 feet, to be spanned almost entirely column-free while cantilevering in multiple locations.

The tallest volume of the building—wedged into the intersection of the forking galleries and performance space—consists of structural steel framing supporting concrete-on-metal-deck. This system simplified the construction of the north wall, which slopes and curves in two directions.

  • Photo credit: Iwan Baan.
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The curved portion is framed entirely with straight round HSS tubes in the long direction and straight W-shapes transverse to the round HSS tubes. The end of each straight round HSS tube is evenly spaced along the top and central spine of the wall, creating a ruled surface. The transverse W-shapes are moment connected through the round tubes creating a diagrid that stiffens the wall as it supports the almost 70-foot-tall glass cavity wall.

The curved portion is framed entirely with straight round HSS tubes in the long direction and straight W-shapes transverse to the round HSS tubes. The end of each straight round HSS tube is evenly spaced along the top and central spine of the wall, creating a ruled surface. The transverse W-shapes are moment connected through the round tubes creating a diagrid that stiffens the wall as it supports the almost 70-foot-tall glass cavity wall.

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