The barrier-free building was designed and constructed to provide ARC's most fragile clients and their families care, skills and therapy in a healthful environment.
The ARCenter, the Greater Richmond ARC's new headquarters, is now open for business. It is also open for therapy, wellness activities, library & computer time, daily living skills training in areas such as meal preparation and clean-up in a handicap-equipped kitchen.
'Our new headquarters gives us room to grow, and for our clients to grow with us,' said The Greater Richmond ARC's President Marshall Butler, noting the 24,000-square foot, barrier-free building at 3600 Saunders Avenue can increase the organization's capacity by 20%, while providing important resources such as computer and video modules, a library, and kitchen and laundry facilities.
The ARCenter will house the children, teens and adults who are most fragile and have severe mental and physical disabilities. Its current headquarters at 1901 Westwood will remain open to house ARC Industrial Services (AIS), which provides training and job opportunities involving light assembly, packaging, fulfillment and scanning services for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
One of ARCenter's most important features isn't technical at all: it's sunlight. Designed by Richmond-based architectural firm, 3North, and constructed by Richmond-based Kjellstrom + Lee, the ARCenter's emphasis on open spaces and natural light allows both ARC's clients and staff to spend their days in a pleasant and healthful environment, says Butler.
'The ARCenter is the result of a longstanding dream and the collaborative effort of several groups of people who shared a vision,' said Butler, who explained that funding for the project (the building itself cost $5.1 million) came from private and public donations, ARC's own assets and state government funds.
Both The Greater Richmond ARC's management team and Board of Directors were committed to making the ARCenter a reality despite the faltering economy, Butler said. 'The late John F. Kennedy spoke years ago about the challenges of the space program, declaring, 'That goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.' ' The ARCenter, says Butler, was 'years in planning and execution and ' for us ' not unlike going to the moon in terms of gathering resources, planning, and effectively reaching our goal.'