A Gateway to the Humanities

Humanities Building

Humanities Building

University of Richmond
Richmond, Virginia

We renovated and expanded one of the University’s oldest and most architecturally significant buildings to create a student-centered humanities hub. The renewed building unites the English, History, Classics, and Philosophy departments in a series of spaces that respect the University’s past while looking to its future.

The centerpiece of the addition is a Humanities Commons opening onto a reading terrace. With a coffee bar and a variety of seating types, the living-room-like Commons provides an informal gathering space for student collaboration, conversation, and co-curricular club meetings as well as a venue for lectures and symposia. It has become a vibrant heart for the University’s humanities departments and a showcase for their work.

The great hall is preserved and as beautiful as ever.
A historic photo of a library.

Building History

The building was designed by Ralph Adams Cram, a leading architect of the Collegiate Gothic style. It opened in 1914 as the Academic Building and housed the University’s library, classrooms, and administrative offices, including the President’s office.

A photo of a large gothic style window in a reading room.
A photo looking into an office.

Historic Preservation

We restored the historic building’s slate roof and exterior masonry walls. On the interior, we restored original wood paneling in the stairwells and vaulted great hall while replacing non-original carpeting and light fixtures.

A photo of students using a study area.

Expanding a Landmark

The addition’s historically compatible design blends seamlessly with the original building while expanding it by a third. It provides larger spaces - like the Commons - than the historic wings can accommodate, as well as needed infrastructure including an elevator and accessible restrooms.

A photo of a museum exhibit.

Classical Collections

In addition to classrooms and faculty offices, the building houses a specialized archaeology lab and the classics department’s Ancient World Gallery. This museum-quality space displays the University’s teaching collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts.

A photo of students walking towards a brick building on a college campus.

Energy Efficient Design

Our improvements to the building envelope work in tandem with new high-performance HVAC and electrical systems to increase energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

A photo of a brick building with students walking around it.

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