Oh, we’re halfway there!
RIC’s new Art Center reaches mid-completion
After much deliberation, health and safety concerns forced action and, with financial help from the Alex and Ani company, the decision to construct a new Art Center was made. For many years there had been talk of replacing the old RIC Art Center, formerly a Student Union, with a brand new building. Planning for the new building began in April 2011, when it was decided that the old building was to be torn down and rebuilt in a two part plan.
Half of the old Art Center was to be torn down and the new building would be constructed while classes were able to still be held in the other half. Upon completion, classes would move to the newly renovated half while the remains of the old building were to be taken down and rebuilt.
The idea seemed sound and a schedule was designed to showcase when and how the work would be done. According to the schedule, which still resides in the common area of the current Art Office in Building 2, construction would begin in March of 2012 and the entirety of the project, both sides of the building, would be completed by September 2013. As of now, only one half of the new building has been completed and, at press time, it currently has no occupancy permit.
Leaky ceilings in the ceramics and jewelry departments, as well as most drawing and design classrooms, are immediately noticeable by the water stains left on the concrete floors. Work tables built into the print shop were built far too small for the equipment that will be housed on them. At least one bathroom needed to be completely re-tiled due to shoddy workmanship and some of the classrooms are not even squared. Even the building map in the West entrance is oriented upside down from how a map normally would be, making it difficult to navigate the building.
According to Art Department Chair Bill Martin, “there are always setbacks, big and small that effect any construction project; the bright side is, despite these setbacks, RIC art students will finally have a great building to call their own.” He’s right. Though the new building has its troubles, it offers a far larger, cleaner and safer place for students.
The Jewelry, Sculpture, and Ceramics areas have been significantly enlarged, along with the general Drawing and Design classrooms. Every room now has ample storage space for student work along with other augmentations such as projectors, track lighting and sinks, which should be put to good use. There is even a spray booth for painting and using other chemicals. Miles of ductwork help ventilate the building, keeping the air clean. And outdoor workstations help allow students to continue their efforts in the fresh air, should they choose.
The second half of construction is estimated to take far less time than the first and should be ready for students in just over a year, provided there are no major setbacks.