Architects Holl and McVoy

MICHAEL LEASE: The ICA is located at the busiest corner in Richmond. There are over 60,000 cars a day that move through this intersection. That urban energy – and the way the corner is the nexus for both the city and VCU – were part of the inspiration for the building’s main architect, Steven Holl, and his Senior Partner Chris McVoy. As you listen to their comments, we’re including some of Steven Holl’s initial concept watercolors for the building. Look at your screen to see them.

STEVEN HOLL: There was never in my mind the idea that this should be a brick building. This is a building about art, and art students, and the University, and students need belief in the future. So I said, ‘This building, it’s not going to be about the past, it’s going to be about the future.’ And I was surprised how positive everybody was about that decision.

MICHAEL LEASE: Here’s the architect’s Senior Partner, Chris McVoy:

CHRIS MCVOY: One of the things that really drew us to the project was the idea that VCU would put contemporary art on this incredibly important corner as its gateway. That says a lot about a commitment to the arts. We said ‘This is a chance we could really make a new kind of architecture that… catalyzes their aims into a great institute.’

STEVEN HOLL: There was an old train station on this site, and if you look back at those old drawings, the tracks actually fan out in a shape not unlike the shape of our building, so there’s some kind of… a deep historical trace, somehow in the ground, that also relates to the direction we took for the project.

CHRIS MCVOY: Most buildings you look at one side you kind of know what it’s going to look like on the other side, right? This building, you look at it from one side, you go around the corner, you’re like, ‘Whoa I wasn’t expecting that!’ And that kind of stimulation is where architecture can affect your awareness, and it can trigger curiosity.