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Virginia Commonwealth University Annual Report 2019-2020

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  2. Taking shape
  3. Master site plan progress

Taking shape

Master site plan progress

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VCU adopted the ONE VCU Master Plan in March of 2019, creating a shared vision that identifies the physical framework necessary to support VCU and VCU Health System strategic priorities for years to come and plays an important role in how VCU evolves in partnership with a growing city. Input from the VCU community, as well as neighbors and community partners, was vital in shaping the ONE VCU Master Plan.

Generally, there are two main planning phases for each capital project: the pre-planning phase and the detailed design phase. During the pre-planning phase, VCU determines the scope of the project, what the greatest needs are for a facility, how it will be funded, what programs will be offered in the space, and what competing objectives might impact the project. This information helps VCU prioritize projects since, as is often the case with urban planning, one project must be completed before another begins. In the detailed design phase, our architects work from a well-defined scope and budget to design a project (the ONE VCU Master Plan proposes new construction and renovation to, at a minimum, achieve LEED Silver certification) and receive all of the requisite approvals.

Once the pre-planning and detailed design phases are complete and the funding for the project has been secured, the project enters the construction phase.

Here is a quick update on the projects supporting the university:

STEM building

Once the Franklin Street Gym was demolished in the summer of 2020, construction work began on VCU’s new science, technology, engineering and technology building. The $124 million STEM building will house lab, classroom and office space for the College of Humanities and Sciences. The building will expand existing lab space, facilitate innovative and flexible teaching methods, provide students with instructional and study spaces, and free up space in other College of Humanities and Sciences buildings to better serve students and faculty.

Engineering Research Building

Construction is winding down for this $100.6 million, 133,000-square-foot research building scheduled to open in late 2020. This building will significantly expand the College of Engineering’s laboratory capacity and serve as a collaboration hub for students and faculty. It will support advanced research and economic development with a design that emphasizes makerspaces, collaborative research facilities and flexible gathering areas.

Front Doors

Phase I of the Front Doors identified 11 intersections in need of pedestrian-oriented accessibility and safety improvements. 2020 marked the completion of two intersections: Franklin and Shafer streets and Main and Linden streets.

Rice Rivers Center Research Building

Construction is underway for this $7.6 million, 14,000-square-foot facility located at the VCU Rice Rivers Center in Charles City County, Virginia. It will dramatically enhance researchers’ ability to conduct their work on-site and will facilitate new collaborations. Research teams will gain needed space and support facilities such as an environmental chemistry analysis laboratory and a geospatial data analysis laboratory. Meeting space also will be provided for idea-sharing and regular lectures by guest scientists and environmental managers. The single-story building will provide space for VCU faculty and staff focused primarily on river and wetland research.

Arts and Innovation Academic Building

The pre-planning study is now complete for this facility that is slated to be located across from the Institute for Contemporary Art at the Markel Center. It will provide a launchpad for critical digital and creative economy initiatives both on campus and in the city. A new building will optimize VCU’s arts innovation programs by bringing them together under one roof.

Student Commons and Wellness Building

The pre-planning study is now complete for a new student commons facility that will bring wellness to the center of university life and highlights the priority VCU places on holistic well-being.

For a full list of projects visit

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