VCU


A reader pointed me to his picture of the replacement building for VCU’s soon-to-be-demolished Larrick Center.

Here’s a photo of the rendering , thanks to Taber:

larrick-replacement.jpg
Photo by taberandrew, used with permission

Well, it’s certainly not as architecturally distinctive as the building it’s replacing.  And it’s in line with the style of VCU’s other new buildings, which for me isn’t necessarily a good thing.

Thoughts? Criticisms? Excitement? Please share…

Also, as I said in an earlier post, reader submissions and suggestions are encouraged, even begged for.  This post is from a comment by alert reader Taber, who I thank profusely and ask others to emulate! Email me if you’ve got ideas to share.

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In addition to the art deco West Hospital which Trani wants to tear down, another VCU-owned landmark in downtown Richmond is about to go. Here’s a picture of the doomed building:

larrick.jpg
Photo by Taberandrew, used with permission.

This is VCU’s Larrick Center (which I’ve seen many times & had no idea what I was looking at!)

OK, so maybe this doesn’t qualify as a landmark. But it’s certainly one of the stranger buildings we have in downtown Richmond. For those who haven’t seen it before, make a pilgrimage before it’s gone forever. Here’s a map:

larrick.gif

I learned this sad news from a VCU Librarian & Professor, Dan Ream who wrote about the building’s history on his blog:

Built originally as the Virginia Civil War Centennial Center and opened in September, 1961, it has functioned for many years as the student activities center for MCV campus students at VCU. It was named for the former YMCA director at MCV, Jonah Larrick.

VCU’s description of the building:

Larrick Student Center includes a dining facility on the first floor and a social center on the second floor. The spacious second-floor lounge is used for movies, dances, lectures, receptions, art exhibitions and other functions. Additional upstairs space houses billiard tables, table tennis, television and an area for listening to music.

And other than Professor Ream’s blog, the only mention I could find on-line of the impending demolition occurred in the minutes of a Student Activities Advisory Committee meeting back in September, which indicates the center closes in December and will be demolished in January.

I wonder what they’ll replace it with…

So I happened upon a 6-week-old coffee shop this morning on Broad near Laurel St. (just west of Belvidere) called “Common Groundz.” They have a myspace profile, but no webpage.

They’re serving Bev’s Ice Cream, Zuppa soup & sandwiches, and in the fall will add Bottom’s Up Pizza to the menu. And their coffee’s fair trade.

Plus they’re hosting local music & poetry shows- 13 scheduled so far in June (schedule is available at their myspace profile).

Their support of local restaurants & artists makes them a great addition to the Richmond community. In their own words: “We promote Local Artists, Local Music, and Local Food in an effort to enrich our own community’s varied gifts and talents into this city and this place.”

And the owners have a story too:

[T]he owners of Common Groundz are persons in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. We are proud to say this in an attempt to dispel the belief that once an addict, always an addict. We are living examples of change and progress. We do become responsible, productive members of society. We welcome those of you in our community who choose to fellowship with those of us in recovery.

I hope the shop succeeds!

“Silence means assent.”
-attributed to John M. Bennett, VCU’s senior vice president for finance and administration, and “a lead negotiator with [Oregon Hill] neighbors affected by the [proposed] recreation center.” Via the TD.

VCU wants to build a recreation center on Cary Street, between Linden and Cherry streets, and demolish two historic 19th Century stables. Apparently, the lack of vocal opposition over the past several months led VCU to believe Oregon Hill residents supported the proposal- hence the quote above. Several Oregon Hill residents and organizations, however, are ending their silence (if they every really were silent) and voicing their opposition. Among their complaints:

  • The stables are integral to the historic fabric of the neighborhood.
  • The proposed rec center would be out of scale with surrounding buildings. VCU’s planning to wrap the current Cary St. Gym (itself an historic building- it used to be the city auditorium) with a 100,000 sq. ft. addition.
  • The new development violates VCU’s promise not to encroach any further on the neighborhood.

I’m personally undecided on the issue. I haven’t seen the stables myself and haven’t heard compelling arguments about why they need to be saved. Not everything old needs preservation- perhaps these do, perhaps they don’t. And I can find no information on their current use- are they vacant or not?

Also, I haven’t seen a good rendering for the proposed building (there’s a low-resolution image reprinted in the TD, but not made available on-line). I’m curious to see how the building will fit with its neighbors. If anyone knows of a good rendering post a link in the comments section (architects are Moseley Architects).

I wish VCU would focus on buying and building up vacant lots and parking lots around downtown instead of tearing down buildings. I understand that in this case they want to cluster their recreation options for students, but still. With so much vacant & under-utilized land around, I’d like to see increased density in Richmond, not just recycling current building sites.

Whatever the merits of both sides in this argument, we can expect the fight to stay in the news a while. The TD reports, “Oregon Hill leaders have vowed to continue to fight plans for the recreation center every step of the approval process, from state agencies to City Hall.”