Ground has been broken on the new building for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. The project, situated on a block bounded by Broad, Marshall, 10th and 11th Streets, is slated for completion in 2015 and comes with a price tag of $168 million. The intent of the development centers around addressing the fragmented nature of pediatric care in the region as well as accommodating parking needs downtown.
Not much in the way of architectural information has been made available, aside from a few intriguing renderings courtesy of the architectural mega-firm HKS Architects, who is responsible for countless American hotels, stadiums, offices and hospitals. Contemporary computer graphics have a tendency to sensationalize actuality in favor of a flashier image, giving this project a surreal quality, as of now. However, the undeniable modernism of the building will be a statement in Richmond’s architectural landscape in keeping with the most recent MCV addition a block east on Marshall. While the project will become clearer with time, the finished product will be nothing short of a major upgrade to the unimaginative neo-traditionalism envisioned for the building in 2005.
The two primary benefactors of the project are the children of Richmond and our downtown’s urban fabric and for both it is long overdue. The new pavilion will eradicate an embarrassing blemish of surface parking immediately adjacent to City Hall and expand MCV’s already dense downtown campus instead of sprawling out onto an ill-fitting parcel. While the building will consume an entire city block for hospital and parking uses (demolishing the existing Children’s Pavilion), it appears to have many elements of a street-friendly presence, including possible retailers and community spaces on the highly transparent ground floor.
The New Children’s Pavilion will without a doubt bolster the standing not only of the already prestigious MCV but of the city in general. As a citizen base, we frequently endure the ups and downs of VCU development in the area. Fortunately, it looks as if this will be a high point.