The Ellwood Thompson’s headquarters in Richmond, designed in 1954 as a doctors’ office by Deigert and Yerkes Architects of Washington, D.C., has been selected to receive AIA Virginia’s Test of Time Award. The award recognizes a structure not less than 25 years from the date of initial construction that still carries out the original program in a substantial manner and stands as originally designed in appearance and in good condition. The award will be presented at the Visions for Architecture celebration on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and online.
The circular one-story building, located at 3540 Floyd Avenue, and its carefully considered site plan respond to its setting at a busy corner that links a residential and commercial area. The front façade is a windowless curve of ornamental concrete block laid in a stacked pattern. The front door is set back in a reveal at the center of the wall. Along the south and west sides high brown brick walls extend from the building and screen the parking lot and the city sidewalk from the private courtyard in the back.
The elliptical plan of the lobby includes a continuous bench along one wall and a lens-shaped pool below the opposite wall. Skylights provide natural light for this feature. Doorways on either side of the lobby lead to offices that line the exterior wall. The building continued to be used as a doctor’s office until 2015 when it was acquired by the current owner to serve as headquarters for the nearby natural food market, Ellwood Thompson’s.
Renovation work began in 2017 with a project team that included Walter Parks Architects, Four Winds Design landscape architect, Sadler & Whitehead preservation consultants, and J.W. Heisler Contracting Co., Inc. Together they revived the building to meet the new owner’s needs. The exterior envelope was cleaned and repaired without making any changes to the design. The landscape and the courtyard reestablished the connection to nature that was so important in Yerkes’s original design.
A new mural by Emily Herr enlivened the distinctive lobby, where the original interior pool now holds a water-colored blue rug. Framed architectural drawings, photos, and other documents related to the building’s early history hang throughout. Still functioning as an office space 67 years after its original construction, Ellwood Thompson’s headquarters has stood the test of time.
For its enduring significance, the Ellwood Thompson Headquarters at 3540 Floyd Avenue will presented with the Test of Time Award at the Visions for Architecture gala on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and online.