At the intersection of environment and education is student life – an integral component of the college experience, and one with significant implications for recruiting and retention. The new Gladding Residence Center at VCU is a vibrant, modern facility that expands the University’s housing capacity, enabling it to house the entire freshmen student body on the sought-after Monroe Park campus. This, in turn, positively contributes to the social and academic experience for freshmen students. A first for the university, the new complex was delivered by a public-private partnership team including American Campus Communities, Clark Nexsen, Ayers Saint Gross, and W.M. Jordan Company.

Housing 1,500 students in 12 stories, Gladding features both double traditional and double semi-suite rooms. The sleek, 365,000 square foot complex is subdivided into six neighborhoods of approximately 125-200 students each. These neighborhoods foster an intimate sense of community with two-story “centers,” including shared kitchens, laundry facilities, study areas, and lounges.

The design aligns with its urban and campus contexts, blending traditional materials with a contemporary aesthetic.

A light-filled, two-story lobby promotes student interaction and socialization with a fireplace, comfortable seating options, and a variety of games including air hockey, foosball, or basketball arcade hoops. A 24/7 fitness center, administrative offices, and building support space are also housed on the ground floor. Throughout the residence tower, extensive glazing allows natural light to illuminate these spaces, adding warmth and vibrancy and providing a generous birds-eye-view of the surrounding courtyard and cityscape.

The design aligns with its urban and campus contexts, blending traditional materials with a contemporary aesthetic. A pivotal design consideration was the preservation and incorporation of a historic Public Bath House. Built in 1913 on the VCU site, Branch Bath No. 2 was one of the first of its kind in Richmond, offering the public an efficient and hygienic option to indoor plumbing at a low cost. With an elegant neoclassical façade, this structure has been integrated as a welcoming community space, including a popular, multipurpose media lounge on the second floor.