May 3

What is the GAB and why is it important?

 

  • Located along Broad Street between the open lot of the former Murphy Hotel site and Old City Hall, the General Assembly Building (GAB) is recently has been used to house the General Assembly members’ offices and meeting spaces during the legislative session as well as a number of year-round legislative agencies.
  • Facing Capitol Square, it interacts with both the Virginia State Capitol and grounds and serves as one of the many buildings on Broad Street that form the gateway into downtown Richmond.
  • From its 1912 beginnings as the Life of Virginia Building, to the classically-refined 1923 high-rise addition accessible from Broad Street, to the concrete and steel-frame Modernist addition of 1965, the GAB complex represents the architectural evolution of public architecture in downtown Richmond.
    • Alfred Charles Bossom of Clinton and Russell, a well-known architectural firm in New York, designed the 1912 building. This building, the Life of Virginia Building, features three-story tall Corinthian pilasters with American eagles, cherubs, and winged horses. This is the only example of Pegaus in classical columns in all of Richmond. Bossom’s likely source for the Pegasus capitals was Andrea Palladio’s drawing of a Pegasus capital from the Temple of Mars Ultor in Rome.
    • For more information on the history and significance of the GAB, see our architectural history at https://historicrichmond.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Historic-Richmond-GAB-Statement_Final-Aug10-2015-00000002.pdf.
  • The building and its immediate neighbors, as well as Capitol Square’s other historic structures, serve as a lesson for how buildings engage with important public spaces, streets and entrance corridors, and the citizenry.