The nation’s top honor for new construction of traditional architecture has been awarded to the architects of the University of Richmond’s Carole Weinstein International Center, which combines classical features of global design around a central outdoor courtyard.  
Richmond-based Glavé & Holmes Architecture has won the 2011 Palladio Award in the New Design and Construction category (more than 30,000 square feet) for the 57,000-square-foot international studies building, which opened in fall 2010. Now in its 10th year, the Palladio Awards program is produced by Traditional Building and Period Homes magazines and honors Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, creator of the modern architecture of his time that took inspiration from past models.
The $20.45 million Carole Weinstein International Center serves as a metaphor for global education. The three-story, Collegiate Gothic building brings together several related, but previously scattered, programs and departments to create a “crossroads” celebrating the cross-disciplinary role of international education in the university’s five schools.
“The Palladio Awards jury was in agreement; the University of Richmond’s new Carole Weinstein International Center is a beautifully handled example of 21st-century campus Gothic,” said S.D. Don Zivkovic, AIA, FARA, of Zivkovic Connolly Architects P.C. and a Palladio Awards judge and previous winner. “And it was especially gratifying that beyond a courteous contextuality, which is laudable in itself in these days of rampant architectural egotism, the quality of the design and execution of the International Center contributes to also setting a contemporary standard for the building tradition of which it’s a part.”
The center is clad in U.R. Blend brick, a custom color used throughout the university, with carved limestone detailing on panels and columns. Anchored by four corner towers, the opposite elevations match, reflecting traditional Gothic arches. The center aligns with the original 1912 campus master plan and its first seven buildings.
“Knowing that this building would support the university’s renowned international program, we looked for inspiration in traditional architecture and in elements found in cultures around the globe,” said Lori Snyder Garrett, AIA, principal in charge with Glavé & Holmes. “While honoring the university’s signature style, the building stretches to reflect Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Eastern architectural influences. We represent many cultural components that students experience in their global education against the traditional campus backdrop.”
One hallmark is an open-air courtyard, typically found in numerous cultures. A columned arcade surrounds it, and second-floor balconies overlook the space. The courtyard’s paving pattern is that of a mandala, an iconographic art form referring to common cultural notions of center, universe and harmony. The mandala features bluestone pavers with accent stones from 48 countries and a metal globe sculpture that can be manually spun. Five sets of French doors allow a commons area to spill over into the courtyard.
“We looked to the program’s international mission to guide us. Our collaborative approach with Uliana Gabara, the dean of international education, and donor Carole Weinstein allowed us to design a building that brings to life and further nurtures international education,” said John Hoogakker, associate vice president for university facilities. “While remaining true to our traditional design style, we identified common global elements — such as the courtyard, café, commons area and interior and exterior learning space — that come together seamlessly to create an intimate facility that enables meaningful interactions between our students and faculty.”
The design reinforces global cultural elements. Spiral limestone columns, for example, echo Mediterranean styles, while eight rosettes at the two entry portals depict traditional West African symbols for qualities such as peace, understanding, truth and other virtues advocated by the building’s mission.
While modeling neo-traditional design, the center also embraces the technology and sustainable design elements. It is a candidate for Gold Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Regionally manufactured materials and responsible forest-use products were used in construction. Thermal storage air conditioning and occupancy-controlled lighting will reduce energy consumption by more than 20 percent. Landscaping throughout the site includes native or adaptive plants that require little or no irrigation.
“Although notwithstanding the appropriate formal modesty and restraint, it is an imaginative creation,” Zivkovic said. “Thus, the jury commended the complex spatial layering, skillful handling of materials and the thorough attention to detail of the overall design. In addition, the thoughtful integration with the site and immediate landscape serves to underscore a clearly sophisticated sense of place-making.”   
The center’s technological backbone facilitates collaborative teaching and research between Richmond and partner universities in other countries. Live satellite links permit faculty and students in Richmond to participate virtually in lectures and courses at universities outside the United States, as well as engage in real-time discussions with counterparts around the globe. It also features seven high-tech classrooms.
In 2007, Newsweek named Richmond the nation’s “hottest school” for international studies. Some 60 percent of students participate in study-abroad programs before they graduate, and Richmond has direct exchanges with 65 universities around the world. Nearly 185 international students from 60 countries are enrolled at the university, constituting 6 percent of undergraduates.