Forward-Thinking Design at VCU

Feb. 21, 2019

The Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) will bring the most contemporary art exhibits in the world to the VCU campus and the city of Richmond.

Richmond, Va.
Steven Holl Architects

Located in the striking new Markel Center and designed by renowned architect Steven Holl, the ICA offers 41,000 sq. ft. of flexible space including an inviting 33-ft. high central forum. It features a dynamic slate of changing exhibitions, performances, files and interdisciplinary programs.


In keeping with VCU’s master sustainability plan, the ICA incorporates state-of-the-art technologies and environmentally conscious design elements and makes use of numerous natural resources.


The exterior for the contemporary design is highlighted with 28,000 sq. ft. of Rheinzink roof and wall panels. According to Steven Holl Architects, “The prePATINA blue-gray Rheinzink exterior interfaces with clear and translucent glass walls and skylights that infuse the building with natural light and lessen reliance on nonrenewable energy. The zinc shares the same greenish-gray tonality as the matte glass, giving the building a shifting presence from monolithic opaque to multifarious translucent depending on the light.”

The custom cassette panels were designed and fabricated by Rheinzink systems partner A. Zahner Co. of Kansas City, Mo. The open joint metal panel rainscreen system utilized 1.75-mm panels.

According to Zahner project manager John Owens, “The 1.75-mm zinc is a little heavier than normal but that is what the architect wanted.” Zahner provided 1,200 total panels, of which 200 were curved. “We cut those panels radially as needed to fit the curved aluminum frame. All of that fabrication was done in our shop.”


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