Virginia Museum of History & Culture Capital Improvements

OVER THE LAST thirty years, Glavé & Holmes Architecture has engaged in a partnership with the Virginia Museum of History Culture (VMHC) to expand, envision and elevate nearly the entire 200,000 sf facility which houses nearly nine million objects of Virginia history. Since 1990, G&H has completed four major expansion projects (1991, 2001, 2006, 2013, and 2022). Over this time, work has included renovation of the original historic building, known as the Battle Abbey (1913), as well as five subsequent expansions. G&H’s work has provided new galleries, a research library, a theater, public meeting spaces, and the design for extensive collections storage areas within the facility. Our most recent work includes renovation of the library, the expansion of the main public hall, a new gift shop, café and meeting rooms, updated staff office space and extensive gallery upgrades. The exterior grounds have also been extensively updated over the last two campaigns.

The renovations and expansions have corresponded with the museum’s evolution from what was once more of a research institution with limited public visitation to a site that now has become the public center to tell the complex stories of Virginia history. G&H has worked with multiple generations of the organizational administrations to plan and respond to changing museum needs and trends that have driven their evolution as a public museum. The renovations in 2022 were the most comprehensive to the public areas, aimed at re-establishing cohesion across the museum, expanding multi-purpose spaces, brightening the lobby and providing a more compelling overall visitor experience.

Waterford Mill Rehabilitation

THIS HISTORIC MERCHANT MILL in the National Historic Landmark village of Waterford was built in about 1830. It has been used since the 1940s as the site of a popular annual craft fair and as a symbol of the village’s history and integrity. Constant inundation of the foundation by water from Catoctin Creek, has taken a toll on the building over many years. The first phase of the project consisted of a full historic structure report, analyzing the building’s form and condition in the light of its historic significance, and outlining a series of recommendations for returning it to the best condition for long-term preservation. The second phase, recently completed, made the structural and architectural adaptations needed to bring the recommendations to completion as a fully interpreted, safe, and engaging part of Waterford’s heritage. Actions included lowering the wheel pit to a level that would permit water to readily exit to the creek, reconstructing the massive timber hurst frame that supports the milling equipment, bringing the building up to code, and making nearly invisible improvements to the structural system.

Robinson House Rehabilitation

THE VIRGINIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS engaged Glavé & Holmes for the complete rehabilitation of the Robinson House, originally erected ca. 1820 as a family farmhouse. The structure was converted into the R.E. Lee Camp No. 1 before it became part of the VMFA in 1964. The museum’s goal was to restore the facility and adapt it for use as a regional visitor center. The Robinson House was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and is one of the oldest buildings in the Boulevard Historic District of Richmond. The reimagined building houses the Richmond Region Tourism Center, VMFA’s Human Resources Division, and a first-floor gallery featuring an exhibition about the story of the site from the 17th century to the present.

The project has added 3,200 additional square feet to the original 7,600- square-foot structure. The addition complements the former home’s style and introduces an accessible entrance. The expansion houses an elevator, stairway, and three floors of glass-enclosed porches that connect to the original structure. Interior work included restoring the space to reflect historical accuracies. New mechanical and electrical systems are among other building updates.

Mary M. Torggler Fine Arts Center

The Torggler Fine Arts Center is the newest addition to Christopher Newport University’s campus serving the University’s Fine Arts Department and creating space for a new Peninsula Fine Arts Center for Newport News, Virginia. The 88,060 sf center is a dramatic new space that will bring nationally renowned collections to the University and the community. It houses gallery and programming space, an art history lecture hall, a large hands-on gallery, and studios.

Designed to connect to the existing Ferguson Center for the Performing Arts, the Fine Arts Center provides space for visiting exhibitions and a future University collection, and is anticipated to provide for the display of renowned collections from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and other traveling exhibitions. Highlights include 8,000 square feet of new gallery space, a children’s discovery gallery, and a theater combined with a variety of support spaces including secure loading and art handling areas to meet American Alliance of Museums (AAM) accreditation standards. The building also houses new academic facilities for the University’s growing arts programs, which will support both academic learning and public education spaces. New studios and classrooms for sculpture, ceramics, drawing, painting, digital arts, and photography studios expand the arts program into new state of the art facilities. This new facility also frees up space in the existing Ferguson Center, where the project renovated nearly 17,000 square feet of existing space to expand CNU’s music program facilities, with a new band room, rehearsal rooms and a recording studio.

The design of the new Fine Arts Center draws from the character of the existing Ferguson Center, originally designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei and offers a transition to the more neo-classical character of the main campus. A dramatic set of three, tiered glass domes serves as the hinge point and main public entry to this dramatic new space. The arcade from the Ferguson Center is extended to provide a consistent public face to the main public façade, while the academic spaces are located in a more neo-classical inspired rear ell. A small café in the dome area, along with two classrooms for children’s education and a Discovery gallery with glass painting box provide space for families to experience the arts. Offices, faculty studios and museum administration spaces are also provided for the building operations.

Trible Library Expansion

CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT UNIVERSITY’S existing library was a compilation of four different decades of construction; the original 1966 one-story library, an addition in 1978, another addition in 1993, and a major addition and renovation in 2008. G&H removed portions of the building, renovated major sections of the earliest building, and added a large addition. In addition, the existing library contained only 200 seats and the University wanted to increase seating to over 1,000.

Modern university libraries have evolved into much more than repositories for books. G&H helped transition the facility into a 24/7 student-focused study center, complete with an updated coffee shop, expanded media center, extensive technologies, a lecture hall, reading/study rooms and state-of-the-art archival storage and archives library.

The most dramatic addition was a new two-story Reading Room. Locating it on the second floor allowed this central feature to be flooded with natural light from the library’s cupola and skylights concealed within roof wells. This iconic, three-bay room surrounded by balconies flows out to three outdoor reading terraces. This room, named the Rosemary Trible Reading Room, and the newly renovated spaces that surround it, has become an immediate success with students who occupy the building at all hours of the day and night, fulfilling the hopes of CNU’s library staff and administration.

National D-Day Memorial Master Plan

THE NATIONAL D-DAY MEMORIAL is located on a 50 acre site in Bedford, Virginia. G&HA was commissioned by the National D-Day Memorial to assist in coming up with a conceptual master plan for the complex. The site consists of a well-developed, landscaped memorial, serviced by several utilitarian structures originally intended to be temporary in nature. The Memorial is beautifully conceived, but the visitor experience is diminished by the quality of the support structures, lack of clear organization, and a lack of indoor space.

The goal of the Master Plan is to plan for the evolution of the property and its development to become the center for learning and teaching. As a result, the Master Plan considers prospects for new enhancements including an education center, visitor services, a welcome center, event facilities, service areas, and additional exhibition space. G&HA went through a six month planning process, including research, design charrettes, discussion with key stakeholders, design and analysis of multiple alternatives for future development and enhancements. Our team analyzed existing code and site restrictions and the existing structures to determine viable options. The next phase prepared conceptual designs, including a site plan, as well as general cost estimates for the various options.

Fabergé Galleries Renovation

THE VIRGINIA MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS holds one of the foremost collections of Fabergé objects outside of Russia with over 150 pieces including five Imperial Easter eggs. Previously housed in a much smaller square room, the redesign of the Fabergé Galleries celebrates this significant collection by expanding and reorganizing the collection into five gallery spaces. Each of the gallery spaces showcases specific assortments from the collection, from enamels to hardstones to Russian icons. These are housed largely in recessed picture window display cases. The Imperial Easter eggs are the centerpiece of the new permanent exhibit at the museum. Arranged in a round room, the eggs are displayed in individual cases so that the visitors might appreciate the intricate splendor of these objects from all sides.

The architecture of the space was designed to support the detailed quality of the objects, articulating the space with a classical motif of painted columns, cornice and trim. The detail of the trim work increases as you move through the exhibit, from simply wainscoting and cornice in the entry galleries to engaged doric pilasters and pedestals in the interior galleries. The detail grows to its maximum crescendo with three-quarter round fluted doric columns and an intricately detailed chair rail in the central round egg gallery. The central gallery is accentuated with a shallow, elliptical dome ceiling, bearing out some of the same drama that is revealed with the Fabergé eggs themselves when they are opened and unfolded. The simple color palette, warm stained wood floors, and symmetry throughout the galleries serve to complement the objects themselves and celebrate their artistry. The architecture of the galleries was designed in close collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s curators, lighting designer, and exhibition design staff to create an inspiring exhibition. Opened in October 2016, the result has been a dramatic success for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and their permanent collections.

Photos: Travis Fullerton © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Fort Monroe Visitor and Education Center

FORT MONROE is a National Monument managed by the Fort Monroe Authority (FMA) in collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS). Glavé & Holmes Architecture completed the conversion of Building 138 at Fort Monroe into a new Visitor Center. Building 138, also known as Wisser Hall, was originally built in 1909 as a military library and is a contributing structure to the Fort Monroe National Historic Landmark District.

This project is a unique example of a State and Federal collaboration at this significant historic site. The Visitor Center welcomes visitors to Fort Monroe and orients them to the significant history of this property in addition to providing a welcome center for NPS staff to greet visitors to the National Monument. As a key component of the new permanent exhibit, this building tells the story of the arrival of the first African slaves in the continental U.S. to the site of Fort Monroe (Point Comfort) in 1619 and connects that story to the “Contraband of War” decision in 1861 that eventually led approximately 10,000 enslaved people to obtain their emancipation at Fort Monroe. The visitor center builds upon the additional historical exhibits in the Casemate Museum and entices visitors to the museum using the postern gate into the original masonry Fort. The new Visitor Center contains visitor facilities, a staffed visitor desk, exhibits, classrooms and archival storage space.  A new addition makes the building fully accessible, by adding a new elevator and grade level entry for visitors.

Heslep Amphitheatre Renovation

GLAVÉ & HOLMES ARCHITECTURE rehabilitated the historic Heslep Amphitheatre at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

A long-cherished campus location whose construction dates from 1923, the Amphitheatre was repaired and upgraded to retain its attraction as a quiet wooded campus park, while continuing to serve as a flexible outdoor academic facility. In addition to a sensitive historic renovation, the inclusion of barrier-free access paths, seating, and newly constructed restroom facilities ensure that the Amphitheatre remains a rich piece of the University’s fabric.

The judicious and farsighted assessment, preservation, and enhancement of the wooded environs surrounding the Amphitheatre, including a natural perennial stream channel, are integral aspects of the project.

Visitor Center Complex at Montpelier

THE MONTPELIER Visitor Center provides a gateway for guests to experience of the home of James and Dolley Madison. The Visitor Center is located on a beautiful and very sensitive historic site on the original road trace leading from Mt. Pleasant to the Mansion. The focus for the site and building design was to create a relationship between the visitor and the historic landscape through the use of natural materials, scale, views, and connections to the historic narrative.

Glavé & Holmes Architecture (G&HA) in collaboration with Bartzen & Ball, PLLC, provided an elegant and contemporary building that is compatible with the scale, forms, and materials of buildings in the surrounding context, while being distinctive in its use. Building interiors, architecture, and landscape design are integrated to provide a gracious and seamless patron experience.

The complex also provides a 50-seat orientation theater, gift shop, gallery room and a café with doors opening to a slate patio. The duPont Wing features the Red Room, an exact replica of the original room in the Mansion.