For more than two years, Richmond has been watching VCU College of Engineering’s newest building take shape. Now it’s time to take a peek inside.
A virtual grand opening ceremony at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 3, will mark the official opening of VCU’s Engineering Research Building. The event features a ribbon-cutting by university leaders and greetings from elected officials and members of the community, followed by a tour of the new building and grounds.
The 133,000-square-foot Engineering Research Building significantly expands the college’s laboratory capacity. It will support advanced research, economic development initiatives and hands-on approaches to engineering.
The building’s design creates a vibrant, flexible home for expanded VCU Engineering research labs and specialized workspaces. One of the most notable of these is the Innovation Maker Facility, a makerspace supported by a donation from Altria and equipped with state-of-the-art resources for hands-on prototyping, student creativity and experiential learning.
The ERB extends and connects the building shared by VCU Engineering’s East Hall and the VCU School of Business’ Snead Hall. A fully equipped collaboration hub and innovation courtyard, expected to be the social heart of the complex, are designed to knit together the three buildings in an open, light-filled space. It also features the new Ram Bytes cafe to fuel the collaboration.
The look of the ERB continues the VCU Engineering tradition of modern buildings with architectural details from past eras of engineering advancement. West Hall’s pyramids and post-and-lintel doorways refer to ancient Egypt, while East Hall’s tower and rounded arches suggest the Renaissance. The ERB’s red brick and cast stone construction and its roofline with updated smokestack forms recall the 19th-century dawn of industrial engineering. The building’s focal point, the rounded “spaceport” at the corner of Cary and Belvidere streets, gives a nod to future innovation.
Richmond-based architecture firm Baskervill was the ERB’s executive architect. Boston-based firm Goody Clancy served as design architect and Richmond-based Smith + McClane was consulting architect. Richmond construction management firm Kjellstrom + Lee Construction built the ERB, which is being financed by investments from the state, VCU and private support.
“The Engineering Research Building sits at the crossroads of Belvidere and Cary, two streets that transect Richmond from north to south and east to west. This is exactly what engineering brings to our society, crossing basic knowledge and problem solving to meet the challenges that society presents,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin, Jr. Dean of the VCU College of Engineering. “The faculty, staff and students of VCU Engineering are grateful to our donors, the Virginia legislature, VCU’s leadership, the architects, our construction crew, and industry for making this incredible building possible, not only for us but for all of Virginia. Its very design embraces the promise of its central location in Richmond and gives our students the opportunity to meet the 21st century with the education, experiential learning and determination they will need to meet the future,”