Architect: Philip Johnson, renovation by Baskervill
Dates: 1968, renovation in 2007
Address: 200 North 22nd Street
Serenely rested on top of Church Hill, tucked into a small row of trees is the work of one of the most renowned architects to ever build in Richmond, Phillip Johnson. Johnson’s work can be found across the globe, with the Lincoln Center and Sony Headquarters in New York City and the famous Glass House in Connecticut are only some of the buildings in a vast resumé. Built in 1968 to house WRVA, one of Virginia’s first broadcast radio stations, the 18,000 square foot structure has a beautiful view of the skyline to the west.
Identified by large apertures in concrete walls, round edged squares or thinner rectangles give the structure a space age feel. This and the stripping of ornament to the bare essentials as well as the geometric abstraction of the structure further emphasizes the modernism and polarity of style that much of historic Richmond architecture doesn’t identify with. It was this exploration that characterized Johnson’s career, one of always trying new forms and identities. The broadcasting tower, free standing on the small plot of flat grass behind the one story main building, appears as a vertical representation of the latter, the same concrete with round rectangular punctures running up its sides.
One architectural critic compared the building’s placement and organization to that of a Greek temple front facing the public on top of an acropolis, and deemed the structure “one of the city’s most visible and important mid-20th-century architectural landmarks.”WRVA moved to West End in 2000. After a renovation by local firm Baskervill, the non-profit organization Childsavers assumed occupancy and remains there today.