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Vertical Structural Framework for VCU’s New Library Building Nears Completion

The construction of the new library building on the Monroe Park Campus is approaching a major milestone: the completion of the vertical structural framework. Alumni and members of the VCU community are invited to take part in a celebration of the milestone.

Renderings of the planned Cabell Library expansion and renovation.

To mark the building's "topping off," the community is invited to stop by the construction site on the Compass between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on March 18 to sign their names on a beam that will be used to complete the structure. Also, VCU Libraries' Innovative Media department will have a green-screen photo booth to allow visitors to take free, fun photos.

At 2 p.m., also on the Compass, VCU Libraries will hold a "topping off" ceremony in which the beam will be lifted into place.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider and Student Government Association Vice President Carley Langley will give brief remarks, and the Broad Street Brass Quintet will perform.

"You really can see the building shape emerging from the site. The view from the fourth floor is absolutely incredible," Ulmschneider said. "Students are going to love it."

The new building is on schedule to be finished near the end of the fall semester, Ulmschneider said, though he added that "technology and construction almost always take more time than planned."

During the project to date, the phasing of some of the work has been modified to ensure that the overall completion date is met. Notably, new restrooms will be open for use sooner than planned, by late spring instead of the end of the summer. The first and second floors – with new square footage, new furnishings and an expansive new Information Services area – will be in use first. The third and fourth floors – with new reading rooms and large public spaces – are expected to be open with new furnishings and for full use by the beginning of spring semester 2016. The Innovative Media studio on the lower level will also be completed – with new equipment installed and available – in January 2016.

Throughout the design and building processes, VCU Libraries has worked closely with students in making decisions about the new library, and continues to engage and listen to users. Many decisions – about priorities, furniture and amenities – were made with student input and crowdsourcing. Students have voted and given feedback on various matters. Next up:

  • The Innovative Media department will be hosting an open forum on March 31. VCU Libraries is developing, as part of the new Innovative Media area on the lower level, a makerspace filled with hands-on technologies including 3D printers, scanners, laser cutters, craft tools, Arduinos, robotics and much more. The university community is invited to come learn about the plans so far and, more importantly, to share ideas about the makerspace. The VCU Libraries Makerspace Open Forum will be held March 31, 6 to 7 p.m., James Branch Cabell Library, room 250.
  • A Cabell Library Graduate Students Forum will be held April 16, noon to 1:30 p.m., also in James Branch Cabell Library, Room 250. Graduate students are invited to learn about plans for the graduate and faculty reading room and give their opinions and comments about improved services in this new space. Lunch will be served. To register, go to:

The March 18 event is free and open to the public. Parking is available for a fee in the West Broad Street, West Main Street and West Cary Street parking decks. If special accommodations are needed, or for further details, please call Gregory Kimbrell, events and programs coordinator, at 804-828-0593 prior to March 16.

For more updates on the new library’s construction, go to:

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