The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University has won the American Architecture Award for 2019. Since its launch last year, the ICA has brought internationally relevant contemporary artists to Richmond and mounted site-specific artwork, large-scale installations and participatory exhibitions with free admission and membership. The fall exhibition, Great Force, opens October 5.
The ICA was chosen for the award by the Chicago Athenaeum, a museum of architecture and design, and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, based in Dublin, Ireland. The ICA was one of more than 100 winning projects this year, selected from a short list of 400 works of architecture across the United States.
The non-collecting institution was designed by Steven Holl Architects, the New York-based firm that conceived of eye-catching arts and educational facilities for Princeton University and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
“It is a joy to see the spaces full of art, to see the ICA ‘playing’ the architecture to exhibit art in new ways,” said Chris McVoy, senior partner of Steven Holl Architects, in Forking Time, a 2018 book commemorating the institution’s opening.
The ICA stands in contrast to its surroundings on the corner of Broad and Belvidere, intended as a gateway to the city. The building’s uniquely contorted footprint is meant by Holl to transform the horizontal momentum of the adjacent streets into vertical movement, as visitors climb the stairs inside and venture into its four galleries. The firm also planned for the future by equipping the structure with a heating and cooling system that runs on renewable geothermal energy.
“The hope for a multivalent architecture open to expanding the role of art as central to the collective and the individual experience has been set in motion,” said McVoy in Forking Time.
The American Architectural Awards have honored bleeding-edge design projects for 25 years, promoting U.S. architecture to a global audience. Each winning building will be included in a special publication available this October.
Lead image by Iwan Baan.