Flashback Friday: the Richmond Blood Center

It’s another Flashback Friday on the blog as we look back to some of the classic TruexCullins projects of decades past. Today’s feature is a Bill Truex project from 1984. Bill designed a number of Red Cross Blood Centers throughout the United States, including those in Burlington Vermont, Hartford Connecticut, and this one in Richmond Virginia:


The Richmond Metropolitan Blood Center provides four basic services: it recruits donors; tests the collected units of blood; processes it into components; and distributes the components to hospitals. In this building, the design addresses the need to control and standardize the service offerings of the Blood Center while providing excellent customer service, in a climate that is usually met with fear and mistrust.
On the exterior, a prevalent steel framework is the dominant feature, providing a clear demarcation of the entry to welcome visitors. A fabric canopy is in place during summer months to control solar heat gain and is removed during winter months.

Long before ‘sustainability’ became the buzzword it is today, Bill was incorporating green design strategies into his early work. At the Richmond Blood Center, a heat recovery process was used to maximize energy efficiency. Blood processing is a refrigerated process that emits heat. The processed heat is recovered and redistributed back into the heating and cooling systems. The laboratories would become uncomfortably hot if the generated heat was not gathered in ducts for redistribution. Along with being energy efficient, this ensures that thermal comfort in the laboratories is not compromised.

In addition to the colorful mechanical system on the building interior – critical to the operation of the facility – expansive glazing and an open plan layout allows daylight to penetrate all the public spaces within the facility. The northeast and northwest faces of the building were planned to be bermed into the earth to control and insulate against prevailing winds and weather.

Here are some views of the light and color-filled interior:  Click to view full-size.