Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Christiana Lafazani

Second Advisor

Camden Whitehead


Introduction | The building for this thesis project is one with a long history. Originally built as the First Baptist Church, it was converted over the years to fulfill a role completely different from its original intent; a student center! During this process and after a series of renovations, the Broad Street main grand entrance lost its place and the arrival into the building became much less choreographed. Essentially, over time one could say that this building had been flipped around, it has lost its original intent, grandeur and purpose. Hypothesis | I challenge the idea of flipping the building back to its original state to return its historical glory, significance and grand emotional experience. I hypothesize that a reorganization of spatial sequence (i.e. bringing the outside in and extending the inside out) can help flip this building around. Materials and Methods | I introduce an internal three sided staircase that mimics what exits exteriorly in an attempt to bring the outside in. This staircase becomes the center’s focal point as it rises to the third mezzanine level. The staircase is based on the “Golden Section” idea of proportional geometries which has been found inherent in the building. I extend the inside out by turning the “monumental” exterior grand steps into a place people can utilize. Results | Placing such a large structure by the building’s entry points had great impact on drawing people into the building and up the steps into the main lounge consequently re-choreographing the arrival experience. The design solution breathes new life into this building while still respecting and acknowledging all of its crucial and historic elements. Just as the altar was a main focal point when this building served as a church, the new transparent elevator shaft that is tucked in between the spiraling stairs becomes the center’s new focal point. The contemporary facade that was inserted asymmetrically on the west side of the building emphasizes the symmetry and contrasts the existing structure causing tension between the old and new but proving that they can coexist.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission