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VCU Depot

Commonwealth Architects


Virginia Commonwealth University

Project Status



37,000 sq. feet
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Project Description


The architect was retained to rehabilitate the former Richmond Terminal Depot into a collaborative, multidisciplinary space for VCU’s School of the Arts. The project transformed a significant historic property in downtown, Richmond, VA, into a facility for student, faculty and community engagement. Built in 1907, the Richmond Terminal Depot was constructed to serve the Richmond and Chesapeake Bay Railway. The railway proved unprofitable and by 1938, the property was purchased by the Richmond Glass Company. The site consisted of four buildings: the large terminal/storefront building facing Broad Street and three storage buildings to the rear, two of which were connected during the rehabilitation with the construction of a new infill addition.

The rehabilitation delivered more than 37,000 square feet of space for the rapidly growing arts school. Prior to the completion of the Depot project, the VCU School of the Arts did not have a facility in which to flourish. To create a modern arts facility within this historic building, the adaptive-reuse was designed to respect the character and adhere to the unifying vocabulary of the former depot. With open voluminous spaces and raised ceilings, the early 20th-century depot building was well suited for the innovative design required by VCUarts.

The facility houses flexible interdisciplinary workspaces, studio classrooms, offices, lounge, and conference room. The building also includes the Depot Gallery, which features exhibits of student artwork, a state-of-the-art motion capture studio and coffee shop. The buildings at the rear of the property, “The Annex,” now house a dance studio for the VCU Department of Dance, a sound editing studio for the Department of Kinetic Imaging, and the Multi-Purpose Production Room. The infill addition provided much needed locker rooms and storage rooms for the dance department.

More than 100 years after its construction, a building that once served as a transportation terminus now serves as a hub for the arts in Richmond. The rehabilitation of The Depot revitalizes a stretch of Broad Street and serves as a catalyst for further re-development of adjacent buildings.

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