VCU Library Study

Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

Richmond, VA

The completed James Branch Cabell library, created on the findings of this library study, was named a 2016 New Landmark Library by Library Journal

“Accelerate the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries’ expansion and support in recognition that the libraries are a foundational underpinning of the University’s commitment to excellence and to its plans for growth and quality enhancement in its undergraduate and its graduate programs and in its research”.

With this goal as guidance, the planning and design team crafted a master plan document to organize and clarify the way in which expanded library services can be accommodated in the heart of the VCU campus in conjunction with improvements to the existing James Branch Cabell Library. An expansion to the existing library was recommended to be constructed, abutting to and interconnected with the existing Cabell Library. The findings were represented in a set of Functional Area Requirements establishing the design and performance criteria for the facility to house the expanded library services and included conceptual design sketches to demonstrate a preliminary concept for the form, configuration and relative size that the building might achieve. Subsequent to our work, Shepley Bullfinch completed the design and the project was designated a “New Landmark Library” by Library Journal.

This master planning library assessment and programming study was a comprehensive review of all library facilities at VCU, including their Health Sciences Library (Tompkins-McCaw Library) and central library (Cabell Library). Scope of services includes an assessment of existing library facilities, more than 20 focus groups, interviews and work sessions with all aspects of the academic community, analysis of statistical data from peer institutions, and targeted surveys of selected peer colleges. These pre-programming tasks set the groundwork for the development of the detailed Program for the expanded central library building in the heart of the campus.

Other Tappé New Landmark Libraries:

Other Virginia Higher Ed Libraries:

Other Tappé/BCWH Projects:



Our school clients rely on us for full spectrum services from system wide feasibility studies to school planning and construction. We understand current trends in educational curriculum and the evolving requirements of specialized learning. This expertise is reflected in many completed new and renovated academic facilities for both public and private schools. Our designs are unified around the goal of creating carefully scaled and engaging learning environments flexible enough to support both group and individual learning.



National and international clients turn to us for informed current thinking on library design. We have acted as the prime Architect and also as a consulting designer for library projects throughout the country, enabling us to share our expertise in a broader geographic area. Our collaborative approach, combined with our understanding of innovations in library design and the delivery of library services ensure that our libraries are vital and dynamic facilities, transforming individual lives and enhancing communities.



Colleges and universities have engaged Tappe Architects to assist with diverse projects such as student centers, libraries, learning commons, dormitories and laboratories as well as campus master plans. Our list of clients includes MIT, Wellesley College, Endicott College, Tufts University, Curry College and Norfolk State University. We have acted as Architect-of-Record and as consulting architect on academic library design and interiors. Appreciated for the quality of our service, we have completed multiple projects on the same campus.



Whether an art museum or event space, we are always interested in taking on engaging projects of all types. We have completed many municipal projects including a combined police/fire station, town halls and studies for combined municipal facilities – often several for the same community. Our portfolio includes residential facilities as well as spaces for retail and hospitality. All of these various commissions have in common a rigorous and collaborative planning process and elegant and thoughtful execution.