VCU Brandcenter in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the foremost media, advertising and communications schools in North America. To accommodate the school’s expansion, a new building was needed that reflected a teaching process that simulates real world challenges, within an inspirational environment. A historic three-story brick carriage house provides the main school teaching space, and this is supplemented with a new service structure located alongside, which provides modern facilities and services on three levels, including seismic bracing of the old building. Together, the structures house a school pioneering an advertising curriculum offering not only business fundamentals and strategic branding, but hands-on understanding of the creative process and the experience of working with creative teams of students, teachers and professionals. Acting as a catalyst, the new addition seeks to bring things together: old and new, student and faculty, academia and practice. Resisting the traditional academic hierarchy of student, faculty and administration, the project encourages a high level of social interaction between all users and all floor levels. Open communication is facilitated through a series of small and large open “neighborhoods” such as the massive concrete gathering table in the basement and informal break-out areas throughout each floor.