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VCU unveils design of $32 million art institute

Virginia Commonwealth University’s new Institute for Contemporary Art will have two fronts — one opening toward the busy Broad and Belvidere intersection and the other to a sculpture garden facing campus.

The “double-fronted” design signals that the $32 million project will be a new gateway to Richmond, as well as a bridge between the university and the community, said the building’s architect, Steven Holl.

But its interior, with “forking galleries” that open to the sculpture garden, is intended to change the narrative about contemporary art, he said.

“The nature of this building,” he said, “is to embrace the unknown and act as a catalyst for all the directions that contemporary art might be taking.”

Today, VCU is unveiling the design for the three-story, 38,000-square-foot building, which will be built with private funds and is expected to open in 2015. Holl, whose work includes the Finnish Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, designed the project with Chris McVoy.