VCU’s next big project: $121M STEM building

VCU’s new STEM building will be located at 817 W. Franklin St. (Courtesy VCU)

With funding in place after securing the governor’s signature, VCU has revealed further details about another new building it plans to construct in the city.

The school on Friday announced that its forthcoming science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) building will rise six stories at 817 W. Franklin St., where the old Franklin Street Gym currently stands, and cost $121 million.

The 168,000-square-foot building would be used by VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, and work on the site is expected to begin in spring 2020. A timeline for completion was not disclosed.

The Franklin Street Gym will be demolished to make way for the new building. (BizSense file photo)

Quinn Evans Architects and Ballinger are the project’s architects and Hourigan is the general contractor.

The funding for the project was finalized May 2 when Gov. Ralph Northam signed the state budget. The budget includes $105 million of state money for the STEM facility, per a presentation VCU President Michael Rao gave to the university’s Board of Visitors in March.

The STEM building was announced in March as part of VCU’s master plan, a nonbinding framework for future development on and around its campuses. Other projects outlined in the master plan include a gallery and art center near the Institute for Contemporary Art and an athletic village, possibly near The Diamond.

The STEM building will feature two large-capacity classrooms, 34 labs and other rooms for classes such as chemistry, physics, psychology and kinesiology.

In a release, VCU said most of its current labs can’t keep up with demand, citing that more than 15,000 students take STEM classes each year, nearly half of the school’s 31,000 enrollment.

The Franklin Street Gym currently houses some classroom and office space, but is mostly vacant. The school’s main gym has been the Cary Street Gym at 101 S. Linden St., which opened in 2010.

VCU is converting a small storefront on West Grace into classrooms. (BizSense file photo)

VCU already is shuffling operations out of the gym ahead of the project, including moving two classrooms to a former print shop on West Grace Street.

By year-end, VCU is scheduled to have at least $900 million worth of construction projects ongoing throughout the city.

Work is underway on a $93 million addition to its School of Engineering building and a $349 million adult outpatient facility near its medical campus. Earlier this year, it announced plans for a $350 million children’s hospital on East Marshall.

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John Lindner
John Lindner
2 years ago

In general, I’m not a fan of big buildings on that part of Franklin, but hats off to VCU for mitigating the scale of the building with the design and step down addition on the right. It only makes sense to add density there. And they have done it intelligently. Kudos to everyone involved.

Ralph Russell
Ralph Russell
2 years ago

How will the “E” (Engineering) in STEM be incorporated into this new building?

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
2 years ago
Reply to  Ralph Russell

Ralph, STEM is a program where all of the components are taught as a group as opposed to discrete subjects in any specific area. The “E” part will be part of all of the programs, just like the “S”, “T” and “M” parts. They are becoming more difficult to separate as specialties develop.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
2 years ago

The VCU HRE marches on! Someday the geographical link between the Monroe and Medical campuses will be one. The city’s desire to rezone the entire Monroe Hill and Navy Hill areas to B6 makes this obvious.