1717 Innovation Center – Richmond

A once underutilized building is now the Capital One funded home of Startup Virginia, a nonprofit incubator whose new space connects its participating entrepreneurs to mentors and programs in the community.

  • Client Capital One, Startup Virginia,
  • size 37,862 sqft
  • Year 2018
  • Location Richmond, Virginia, United States,
  • Industry Coworking,
  • SMBW has transformed a former tobacco warehouse into the Capital One Startup Virginia incubator offices located in Richmond, Virginia.

    Based out of a 100 year-old, 5-story heavy-timber former tobacco warehouse in the growing Shockoe Bottom region, the 1717 Innovation Center is a community-driven business incubator, housing the non-profit Startup Virginia. Capital One, who funded the project through their Future Edge program, also occupy space on two floors for gathering space and a research lab.

    Purchased in early 2017, the owner sought to revamp this otherwise underutilized asset through a community outreach partnership with a local non-profit incubator that created a vibrant office hub for the entrepreneurial community, modernized an underutilized urban asset, and instilled a magnet for future subsequent development in the area. Entirely void of modern building systems past the 1st floor, the project scope included a complete renovation of the existing warehouse to include new building systems, the addition of a 6th level for larger meeting functions and outdoor rooftop patio space, and selective demolition to incorporate uniquely expressed vertical transportation systems. Seeking to respect the historic tradition and character of the building while emphasizing the modern building additions, the project strikes a visual juxtaposition between the new and old to celebrate its inherent history and storied past while paving way for new means of innovation and development.

    The state-of-the-art facility features six floors including 25 private offices for startups, shared, co-working and mentoring spaces, meeting rooms, common areas and a rooftop terrace overlooking the city. The space can host up to 50 startup businesses at one time, from single-owner to 8-10 person teams. Each floor features a theme, symbolic of the different Richmond neighborhoods: Church Hill, The Fan, Jackson Ward, Manchester and Scott’s Addition. Each theme was developed with a unique color scheme and finish palette, architectural elements that reflect the style of the individual neighborhoods, even signage and artwork was carefully curated to align with each area of the city.

    Design Team: Spencer Grice, Rick Fischl, Taylor Clark, Tamara Van Meter, Andy Lehman, Melinda Harvey, Farrah El Sharif
    ContractorGilbane Building Company
    Photography: Ansel Olson