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New building on fast track, on schedule and budget set

September 30, 2013

An update on our plans from University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider, Associate University Librarian for Administration and Policy Development Jeanne Hammer and the VCU Libraries Office of Communications and Public Relations.

Last week, the VCU Libraries community tangibly heard and felt our near future: the rat-a-tat-tat of jackhammers at dawn. A crew was exploring how the concrete aggregate panels are attached to Cabell Library in order to finalize construction specs for the new library on the Monroe Park Campus. 

Experiencing the exploratory demolition, the reality of a new library came into clearer focus. We are on schedule to break concrete -- literally -- in March of 2014 with construction ramping up during the summer. The new building will be complete for fall semester 2015.

And, in answer to the most common question we hear: Cabell Library will remain open, offering full, around-the-clock services to VCU students and faculty during the construction. And we'll also make earplugs available.

Updates and details

  • Virginia's Department of Planning and Budget and Bureau of Capital Outlay Management have approved a budget of $50,800,000. Following the approval, the Virginia College Building Authority last week successfully concluded a bond issue that provides the actual funds. That means the money for the building is now available, and will be transferred to VCU very shortly.
  • The Boston/Richmond team of Shepley Bulfinch/Moseley/KSA/AEI are our designers, architects and engineers. W.M. Jordan will provide construction management.
  • 90 percent of the new space is for users, not staff or materials.
  • See all the details and drawings of the design.

Design decisions and highlights

Concepts for configuring the new and old buildings were carefully considered. Our choice maximizes every nook in the old building and offers exciting spaces in the new.

The new building entranceway faces Shafer Court and opens onto the Compass--the psychic center of Monroe Park Campus. The trees and green space on the Cathedral side of the library will be preserved.

More details:

  • A dedicated space for faculty and graduate students will enjoy an inspirational view, looking east from the fourth floor.
  • Media creation space on the lowest level will provide access to state of the art and experimental audio and video content, visual and graphic design and production tools, 3D printers and other advanced media resources to suppot academic projects, including high-end computers for video manipulation and data visualization, along with advanced immersive technology spaces.
  • An expanded Starbucks will remain integrated with the library.
  • A large, flexible, media-rich presentation and event space will provide a stage for many academic programs and VCU events.
  • Artwork, exhibits and event space will showcase VCU's arts programs.
  • Instructional spaces will incorporate robust technology and flexible furnishings.
  • Expanded space for Cabell's Special Collections and Archives will allow easier access and more use of these rare materials.
  • Glass facades will reveal interior activity, creating a welcome beacon that draws the VCU community into the library.
  • Street levels will provide pedestriam-scaled facades that welcome the campus into the building and engage with adjacent outdoor space.
  • Pedestrian flow into and around the new building will be flexible, open and free-flowing. The design minimizes obstacles to pedestrian traffic from the new classroom building north to Shafer Court, and from the Compass west, north and south. The east pedestrian traffic approach will not be affected.
  • The building design is targeting LEED Silver certification at a minimum.

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James Branch Cabell Library Monroe Park Campus
901 Park Ave., Richmond, VA 23284-2033
Toll-free: (866) 828-2665
(804) 828-1111
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509 N. 12th St., Richmond, VA 23298-0582
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