Virginia Commonwealth University, Cabell Library

Richmond, Virginia

  • FIRM

    Moseley Architects


    Virginia Commonwealth University

  • AREA

    277,177 sq.ft.





Design team
Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (Civil Engineering/Landscape); Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan (Structural Engineering); Affiliated Engineers (MEP Engineering); Higgins & Gerstenmaier (Landscape Architecture); Tipton Associates (Food Services Planning)

The Cabell Library addition and renovation project transforms a mid-century library into ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMShepley BulfinchCOST PER SQ FT$135.00FEATURED IN2016 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation state-of-the-art facility that enlivens an entire campus.
Prior to the upgrades, the library faced a dire need for spaces for individual and group study, collaboration, and social interaction. Those needs were heightened because of recent increases in the university’s enrollment and the building’s role as the community library for much of the surrounding area. The project nearly doubled existing seating capacity and introduced a range of environments for study, and focused and collaborative work.
Built on what was formerly an unsightly sunken loading dock, the addition enlivens the central campus plaza, which features an iconic compass pattern. New seat walls offer spaces for the campus community to congregate and enjoy a view of the park and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. In addition, pedestrian access is enhanced by a new colonnade and planters that replaced the barren concrete plinth of the original building. On the new facade, details such as vertical glass fins and seamed zinc panels were selected to unite design elements of the existing building with those of the addition.
Inside the library, double-height spaces provide connectivity between floors and give the building a welcoming feeling. Transparency to the outside via large windows and vast expanses of exterior glass walls draws the energy of the urban campus into the building. At night, the library floods its surroundings with warm light and human presence. In addition to its range of flexible study spaces, the new library includes an event space, a café, and The Workshop, which features robust facilities for digital content creation, 3D fabrication, and large display technologies used for gaming and visualization.