Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts


Interior Design

First Advisor

Sara Reed

Second Advisor

Roberto Ventura


This thesis orients a public library toward the James River with the purpose of strengthening Richmond’s connection to this waterway. Adapting an existing warehouse with a history of river industry, this project used evidence-based design decisions to drive its development. Using interviews, surveys, and case studies, the design is organized around a central gathering space where the river enters the building and around which spaces for study, stacks, and children flow. It also incorporates an amphitheater that evokes the feeling of sitting on the river’s shore. Using panoramic views to the river and city skyline along with a material palette drawn from the place, a strong connection was drawn between the river as the city’s water source and the library as a community anchor.

The city of Richmond was founded on The James River because of all it provided and was the core of city life, but with the rise of the Industrial Era and the changes it brought, the city’s industry turned elsewhere. To this day, Richmond’s most obvious geographical trait is the James River which cuts through it, but despite this direct relationship, the river is seldom acknowledged in the city’s downtown. In a city, there are no built environments more valuable or democratic than its public spaces. In the twenty-first century, public libraries have become one of the last vestiges of truly free public space, having the opportunity to become the nucleus of a city’s culture and a nexus of connection for its people.


© Abigail Fundling

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission