ALEXANDRIA, VA

BICENTENNIAL HALL

Architect: Bowie Gridley Architects

Exhibit Design: RAM Design Studio

12   /   09   /   2019

Built in 1855 as the campus library, Bicentennial Hall is the oldest academic building at Virginia Theological Seminary. Housing two valuable stone panel carvings from the palace of the Assyrian king (circa 850 BCE) as well as a replica carving, the project’s main programmatic objective of enhancing historic, aesthetic, and functional aspects within this important campus treasure compelled us to develop a non-invasive approach primarily using indirect sources and select accent/display sources. The lighting systems offer uniform horizontal illumination for flexible task while also affording gentle accenting of vertical and ceiling surfaces effectively extending, containing, and framing visual delight and utility within an absolutely unique room. Given the juxtaposition of both the rich architectural expression of the renovated library interior and the beautiful artistic and cultural expression of the Assyrian tablets, the lighting is at once deliberately underwhelming and yet absolutely transformative of these two artifacts – the building and the art, synthesizing these fundamentally foreign elements into a coherent unity that is exploited by the lighting.