The $39.4-million Cary Street Gym and Aquatics Center links the 100-year-old, 32,600-sq-ft City Auditorium with a new, L-shaped, 94,200-sq-ft addition. As part of the project, the team renovated the existing building, which started its life in 1910 as a city market and is an architectural monument to the Oregon Hill neighborhood of Richmond, Va.

Photo Courtesy Kjellstrom And Lee Construction
Photo Courtesy Kjellstrom And Lee Construction

The addition defers to the historic nature of the existing structure and neighborhood. The east fa�ade is scaled down to complement the neighborhood and incorporates a series of three individual porches that establish a connection with the two-story porched townhouses across Cherry Street.

The south side of the new building is stepped down to the handsome old townhouses facing Idlewood Avenue.

A two-story atrium with top lighting wraps around the entire existing structure, minimizing the connection between the old and new and revealing the existing exterior masonry walls. The addition employs a barrel-vault roof form in contrast to the sloping-hip roof form of the existing structure and utilizes brick and metal panel materials that complement, but are not identical, to the existing building.

Spaces for a wide range of activities include weight and fitness rooms, a climbing wall, three-court recreational gym with elevated track, spinning room, two racquetball courts, multiuse athletic court, natatorium with lap pools and leisure pool, locker facilities, offices and outdoor activities area.

The LEED Gold project’s sustainable features include diversion of 89% of demolition and construction waste, a 20% reduction in energy, 37% reduction in water use, recycled and regionally manufactured materials, and 62% FSC Certified wood.

The original roof structure of the City Auditorium prevented a seamless connection with the addition. The team removed the original wood-framed, hipped roof and replaced it with a steel-framed roof, replicating the rhythm and configuration of the exposed wood roof rafters from the inside.

As part of the project scope, the team relocated a historic carriage house, which included closure of a main city thoroughfare and reconfiguration of an existing athletic field.

Key Players

Owner: Virginia Commonwealth University
Contractor: Kjellstrom and Lee Construction
Architect: Moseley Architects
Civil Engineer: Draper Arden Associates
Structural Engineer: Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughn
MEP Engineer: R.G. Vanderweil Engineers