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    VCU Brandcenter

    continued

    The image in the background gradually comes into focus slowly over time as more information is downloaded, allowing the foreground image to recede and disappear.

    This method of using a graphic foreground to hint at a denser, textural background plays out throughout the Brandcenter, allowing the contemporary, graphic addition to act as a prelude to the primary structure — the historic artifact whose complexity is gradually understood over time.

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    Acting as a catalyst, the new addition seeks to bring things together: old and new, student and faculty, academia and practice. Resisting the traditional academic hierarchy of student, faculty, and administration, the project encourages a high level of social interaction among all users and all floor levels.

    Open communication is facilitated through the use of a series of small and large open "neighborhoods," such as the massive concrete gathering table in the basement and informal break-out areas throughout each floor.

    While the ground floor accommodates classrooms and acts as a communal gathering space, hosting public events, the basement is devoted to student workspace with adjacent media labs, and the top floor is given over to faculty space and seminar rooms.

    However, the intention is to have staff-student interaction dispersed throughout the building.

    The ground floor is multipurpose and flexible by insertion of a 50-person meeting-room enclosure that folds up against the ceiling, and retractable acoustic curtains separating the 90-person lecture room.

    The old maple floors were refurbished, and new maple strip flooring and maple veneer was used for forming furniture on the faculty floor.

    The Designer: Clive Wilkinson Architects

    Clive Wilkinson established the firm in Los Angeles, California, in 1991 after relocating to the West Coast from a successful career in London, England. He was educated as an architect at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and at the Architectural Association in London.

    His background includes 30 years of experience in a wide range of high-profile creative design projects on four continents, most notably in creative office space, entertainment facilities, television stations, and high-tech office development projects, which have consistently won national and international design awards.

    Responsible for directing all design work, Wilkinson initiates and develops conceptual design strategy in close collaboration with the client team. He is a member of both the Royal Institute of British Architects and the American Institute of Architects; a member of the Interior Design Hall of Fame; and previously held a board director position with AIA Los Angeles (2004-2006). He was nominated a 2006 "Master of Design" by Fast Company magazine.

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    Casey C.M. Mathewson studied architecture at the University of Oregon and the Stuttgart Technical University. In 1988 he founded mab - mathewson architektur berlin, a firm devoted to building and research in architecture. The themes of his publications include human focus in architectural design, urban design in Germany, and the history of residential architecture.

    Ann Videriksen established her own public relations and marketing firm in 1993 after filling that role in-house with architectural firms in Los Angeles and Copenhagen. She is a contributor to magazines and books on architecture and design, is an advisor to the "Masters of Architecture" lecture series presented by AIA/LA and the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), and serves on the board of directors of the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in L.A. She currently represents L.A. architecture firms as a media and marketing consultant for her firm Design Communication.

    This article is excerpted from a5 Los Angeles, edited by Casey C.M. Mathewson and Ann Videriksen, copyright © 2010, with permission of the publisher, ORO Editions.

     

    AW

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    At the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Brandcenter, a large roll-up door now occupies the central bay of the historic building, connecting a conference space with the street.
    Photo: Allen T. Jones/ © Virginia Commonwealth University Extra Large Image

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    The conference space inside the VCU Brandcenter is defined by a retractable structure.
    Photo: Allen T. Jones/ © Virginia Commonwealth University Extra Large Image

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    Detail section drawing through the retractable conference-room enclosure at the Brandcenter (formerly known as the Adcenter).
    Image: Clive Wilkinson Architects Extra Large Image

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    Connection detail section drawings for the retractable conference-room enclosure.
    Image: Clive Wilkinson Architects Extra Large Image

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    New glass-walled meeting rooms occupy part of the upper floor of the two-story VCU Brandcenter.
    Photo: Allen T. Jones/ © Virginia Commonwealth University Extra Large Image

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    In contrast with the wood-and-masonry construction of the historic structure, the new portion of the VCU Brandcenter was built with steel and concrete.
    Photo: Allen T. Jones/ © Virginia Commonwealth University Extra Large Image

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    A narrow, multistory, skylit stairwell serves as a wide joint between the old and new portions of the VCU Brandcenter.
    Photo: Allen T. Jones/ © Virginia Commonwealth University Extra Large Image

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    a5 Los Angeles, edited by Casey C.M. Mathewson and Ann Videriksen. (Pictured on the cover is Helios House, a gas station in Los Angeles designed by Office dA, with architect of record Johnston Marklee.)
    Image: ORO editions Extra Large Image

     

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