Project Page – VCU Rice Rivers Research Facility

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VCU Rice Rivers Research Facility


Higher Education, Waterfront Development, Research Facility

Approximately 25 miles southeast of Richmond, the VCU Rice Rivers Center (RRC) is home to the Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences (Education Building) and the Inger Rice Lodge. In its current capacity, the Center has the ability to teach and hold lectures at the Education building and now also the ability to house students and researchers at the Lodge. VCU was seeking to expand the capabilities of the Rice River Center Campus with the addition of a dedicated research facility.

Utilizing our focused, engaging, and intensive feasibility workshop meetings we revealed that the Rice Center Research building will be a demonstrational working facility, and not just a showpiece on campus. To be a true working facility, the building needed to be separated by the specific research activities from the dirtiest to the cleanest, thus we have organized the design to efficiently maximize this effort.

Special consideration was given to the design of the building within the constrained site, diligently studying the site we were given to understand its attributes so that we could work with and build upon them. We worked carefully with the given area so operational development is constrained, respects the environment, and the sensitive site. Site constraints included a bald eagle nest, a wetlands area, vernal pool, a wastewater and river water utility lines, a maintenance shed, and research mesocosm; all with their own unique buffer requirements and all critical to maintain for the viability of the Center and its mission. By learning and fully understanding what the constraints were, we didn’t violate them; forcing us to respect them and make them contributions in support of the basis of design. This grounds the design proposal, making it indisputable.

Designed with its function in mind on its very unique site, upon its completion, VCU will have a live research lab facility that will support world class researchers and students that want a place to explore, learn, and grow their work.

From pre-planning to planning phase, VIA was excited by the campus, excited by our mission, and they truly wanted to contribute to the larger mission and what we do here at VCU Rice Rivers Center. The level of engagement in who we are and what we do, went beyond what another architect would have done.
Greg Garmen
Director of VCU Rice Rivers Center

Project Gallery


Visioning Meeting With The Client


Design Charrette With The Client

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