Virginia Commonwealth University, Cabell Library

Richmond, VA | 2016

This major addition to Cabell Library gives VCU a robust research library and a civic and campus landmark that engages the surrounding urban fabric.

The expansion represents a significant investment in library research facilities driven by VCU's strategic development as a national research university and demand for student space fueled by its dramatic growth in enrollment. The project transforms the introverted form of the existing Brutalist library, responding to the verticality of the original building's slot windows with a series of glass fins that provide solar shading and repeat the rhythm in a lighter, more accessible way. With entrances facing city and campus and public spaces wrapped in glass, the building is a prominent part of the civic landscape, its activity and art displays visible from the pedestrian paths and open spaces that flank it.

The expanded library includes a dedicated faculty and graduate research center, a 300-seat event space, and a ground floor cafe, as well as a range of reading rooms and collaborative study spaces. The project, which includes a number of sustainable strategies, is pursuing a minimum of LEED Silver certification.

Shepley Bulfinch is the project's Design Architect, in association with Architect of Record Moseley Architects of Richmond.

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New Cabell Library is bold and welcome addition - Style Weekly, March 2016
A library transformed - March 14, 2016


Shepley Bulfinch Team

Janette Blackburn
Geoffrey Barter
Kelly Brubaker
Laurel Francke
Robyn Whittier
Jay Verspyck
Barak Yaryan



  • Library Journal, New Landmark Library
  • 2016

  • ENR Mid-Atlantic Region, Best Project: Higher Education

View awards list »

"Its innovative features express the creativity we see every day among our faculty and students. Its design empowers, facilitates and catalyzes academic work in myriad, powerful ways.

And I think its beauty and elegance, the magnificent views it provides of the campus, and its inspiring visual statement at the very center of our campus will say more about VCU and what it's become than any words we can find."

- John E. Ulmschneider, University Librarian

"The new Cabell Library is bold architecturally and welcoming... [It] isthe first building in the Monroe Park campus' history... to serve as a significant architectural unifier... Thus, the new library becomes an instant landmark... a once and future crystal palace of knowledge..."

- Edwin Slipek, StyleWeek, March 13, 2016

©2017 Shepley Bulfinch