CREW Richmond May Lunch Meeting: VCU's Institute For Contemporary Arts Prepares To Launch Its Transformative Mission

June 15, 2017
Written by: Chandra Lantz
At the May meeting, CREW members and guests received the inside scoop on the soon-to-open Institute for Contemporary Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University (“ICA”).  Carol Anne Baker Lajoie, ICA Director of Development, was the featured guest.  Lajoie shared that the ICA’s mission is to present the “art of our time” and to create an “open forum for dialogue and collaboration” throughout the Richmond region as well as around the world. 

The new facility will be known as the “Markel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.”  Its primary goal, Lajoie noted, is to leave an impact on the Richmond community through the transformative power of contemporary art.

The ICA differs from any other art facility in the City because ICA is not an art gallery or museum.  It is a non-collecting institute that will feature an ever-changing showcase of exhibits, performances, films and programs that explore the cultural issues through art. 

The ICA’s $41 million cost is fully privately funded.  The building design is described as one of the most ambitious, complicated designs ever pursued in Virginia.

The ICA will be an iconic gateway to the City at Broad and Belvidere Streets – the busiest intersection in Richmond.  The Institute borders the City’s Arts district and the Broad Street corridor linking the VCU campus with downtown.  The design architect was Stephen Holl Architects and the local architect of record is BCWH.

Construction is nearly complete ahead of the planned October 28, 2017 opening. In keeping with the ICA’s mission, the institute features two entrances:  one extending into the City and one directed toward the VCU campus.  The Institute’s 41,000 square feet includes a 240-seat auditorium, event space, several galleries, and a cafĂ©.  The building will be LEED Gold certified.

The opening exhibit will be “Declaration,” a feature on how artists use their work during times of great social upheaval.  The ICA will be free and open to the public.  More information can be found at