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Building Intrigue 

From showy high-rises to revamped department stores, the region's
new construction fascinates and invites controversy.

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While architects, developers and contractors await banks to free up loans, a number of projects were under way throughout the region before the financial downturn.

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>On the downtown riverfront the showy MeadWestvaco high-rise, which has already altered the skyline, should be complete by late fall.

Just up the hill, the newly hatched CenterStage will be a must-see for theater-goers seeking a first glimpse of the architecturally exuberant Loew's-turned-Carpenter Center-turned multistage venue. Who knew that the Thalhimers men's department would one day be resurrected for African dances and Shakespeare tragedies?

Certainly more controversial will be ongoing discussions about whether the mixed-use Echo Harbour development should be built riverside at the foot of historic Church Hill.

In a brilliant nod to environmental responsibility and opening possibilities for an exciting recreational outlet is the Virginia Capital Trail. This pedestrian and bicycle greenway will run from downtown Richmond eastward and extend through Williamsburg to Jamestown. It's taking local form in the East End just north of the canal.

At the Virginia Center for Architecture, the glamorous facility in the Branch House at 2501 Monument Ave., the focus this fall is also environmentalism and sustainability. An exhibit, “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design” (Sept. 10-Nov. 29), will feature 21 new houses internationally— from Melbourne to Stuttgart — and the impact their locations had on design, materials and climatic systems. It also will explore five principles underlying sustainable design: optimizing use of the sun, improving indoor air quality, using land responsibly, wise use of natural resources and building moisture-resistant houses.  

In various events throughout the season the centennial of the practice of William Lawrence Bottomley, the classically trained architect who set the gold standard here for elegant architecture and high taste, will be marked with special tours and exhibitions. Historic Richmond Foundation will lead treks to Middleburg and Raleigh, N.C., (643-7407) and throughout October show student-made models of the New York native's work at the Virginia Center for Architecture.

Back to the Fall Arts Preview

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