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Last Yards of Concrete Poured for VMFA Expansion
Construction workers place reinforcing steel for structural walls and columns at the future school-tour entrance to the museum. (Photo by Richard Woodward, © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. DATE: 12/5/07

RICHMOND, VA.-The last of nearly 20,000 cubic yards of concrete has been poured for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' new five-story glass-and-stone addition, which is expected to open in the fall of 2009.

Some 9,200 cubic yards of concrete was used to create the caissons that will support the addition. Another 10,000 cubic yards was poured for the structure itself.

Topping out for the concrete structure was celebrated in December. Topping out for the steel portion of the project is expected in the second quarter of 2008.

Topping out is the informal milestone that marks the installation of the top-most portion of a new structure. Then, construction will continue on the building's façades and interior, leading to an opening in 2009, museum officials say.

The project will add more than 165,000 square feet of space to the existing 320,000-square-foot museum.

The expansion will cost about $122 million.

In addition to the concrete, 500 tons of steel will complete the skeleton of the addition, which will eventually be clad in 10,000 square feet of insulated glass and 22,000 square feet of limestone, according to Alex Nyerges, VMFA's director.

"Now, the outlines of what will be a magnificent transformation of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts are beginning to take shape. Our visitors are excited by what they can see now, as are our staff and trustees," Nyerges says.

The expansion will bring a 50 percent increase in the museum's gallery space, along with a new 4-acre sculpture garden. The museum's main entrance will be re-oriented to the Boulevard, one of Richmond's main thoroughfares. The interior of the new addition will establish circulation corridors that will connect the new and existing buildings so that visitors may circulate throughout the museum without retracing their steps. Museum officials say this will enable them to organize the VMFA collections in more meaningful ways.

VMFA broke ground for the largest expansion project in its history Nov. 20, 2005.

A new 600-car parking deck, also part of the expansion project, has already been completed. The deck is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, with extended hours during special events. The 170,000-square-foot deck accommodates twice as many automobiles as the museum's former surface lot. The majority of the surface lot is being reclaimed for the new sculpture garden, a portion of which will cover the roof of the parking deck with a landscaped slope for viewing outdoor events.

More information on the project, plus a photo gallery, is available online at

The museum is working with London-based design architect Rick Mather for the expansion. For the VMFA project, Mather has incorporated with Richmond-based SMBW Architects to form the partnership of Rick Mather + SMBW.

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