Sen. Tim Kaine paid tribute to McGuireWoods’ long and varied legacy of service to the Richmond community and to Virginia, headlining a panel of dignitaries who addressed a crowd of about 250 and cut a ribbon to mark the official opening of Gateway Plaza, the firm’s new Richmond home.
“I’ve never been an employee of McGuireWoods, but I can’t imagine being closer to McGuireWoods,” the first-term senator from Virginia said during Wednesday’s grand opening ceremony.
Kaine shared the stage with McGuireWoods Chairman Richard Cullen, Mayor Dwight Jones, Towne Bank Chairman and CEO Robert Aston, Colliers Executive Vice President Bob Chodos and Bob Clark, the chairman and CEO of Clayco, the developer of Gateway Plaza.
In addition to anchor tenant McGuireWoods, Gateway Plaza will house the regional headquarters for Towne Bank as well as a downtown branch for the bank, and offices for CCA Industries. The Potbelly Sandwich Shop will open a restaurant in the building lobby.
Kaine noted that as a young lawyer in Richmond, he came to admire McGuireWoods by working on cases with the firm and opposing the firm on others. He also noted McGuireWoods’ contributions not only to the law, but also business, the arts, philanthropy, and academic advancement in Richmond and Virginia over portions of three centuries since its founding.
“I am not sure what the Las Vegas odds were when this firm was founded that it would still be around and thriving today,” he said. “But I am confident this firm will be around for the long haul.”
Cullen noted that Kaine had declined an invitation from President Barack Obama to meet with Pope Francis at the White House on Wednesday and chose instead to attend the grand opening. Kaine, however, said he turned down Obama’s offer knowing that he would be able to meet the pontiff on Thursday in Washington.
Cullen paid tribute to Clark and Clayco for its work developing the new $120 million glass-walled tower on what had been a largely neglected surface parking lot that created a conspicuous gap in the city’s business district.
“Bob Clark built this building in more ways than just steel and concrete,” he said. “But it’s what goes on inside this building that matters. We want our clients to know that we will work just as hard for you in these fine quarters.”
Jones praised McGuireWoods for its vote of confidence in downtown Richmond.
“We are as pleased as we can be that we were able to retain McGuireWoods,” the two-term mayor said. Then he chuckled and continued, “Besides, McGuireWoods is too old to be changing addresses.”
Clark echoed Cullen’s remarks that the work done within Gateway Plaza will transcend the importance of the building itself.
“We did this to help one of the great legacy businesses of Richmond, Virginia, grow and prosper,” Clark said.
The law firm moved across the street from its home of 30 years in the James Center in phases during the summer.
The lobby features massive murals of the James River rapids produced in the Munich, Germany, studios of Franz Mayer from “Riversong,” an original painting renowned artists Robert Stackhouse and Carol Mickett were commissioned to do for the project. It also includes a massive and functional glass-and-stainless steel sculpture titled “Clear Passage” that dominates a corner of the lobby. (Learn more here.)
Floor-to-ceiling glass walls – 135,000 square feet of glass consisting of more than 6,000 panes – provide a breathtaking 360-degree vista of the James and downtown Richmond, particularly on McGuireWoods’ 18thfloor, the firm reception area filled with conference rooms and meeting space. It also fills the structure with natural light while cutting energy bills by filtering out 75 percent of the sun’s heat.
Gateway Plaza offers 330,000 square feet of rentable space, with 212,000 square feet under lease by McGuireWoods, and a covered deck with 506 spaces for public and monthly parking.