The Rhode Island College campus has seen a lot of construction work as of late, and some of it will soon come to fruition. At a combined cost of $30 million, the RIC Recreation Center and Art Center have undergone extensive construction and refurbishing, and will each host a number of respective amenities upon completion.
RIC’s Recreation Center, located on East Campus, has experienced various renovation projects over the years. Originally, the center included several separate buildings that served as a home for children in state custody, and later, as offices for the Department of Children, Youth and Family Services (DCYF). In the 1980s, DCYF closed operations on East Campus, and in 1989, RIC reopened, renovated, and joined together these buildings, thus creating the college’s current Recreation Center.
Don Tencher, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at RIC, explained that partial demolition of the building “was necessary to not only bring it up to fire code, but building code which included [removing] asbestos tiles and such which were put in buildings of its day.”
The new center will include a two-story cardio and weight training area, an enlarged field house, an event entrance complete with a ticket booth, Wi-Fi access, a sports medicine area, a dance studio and a clock tower visible from Sapinsley Hall. Multi- purpose courts for basketball, tennis and volleyball will also be available.
The new building has been designed to be functional and aesthetically pleasing: it will feature a glass facade showcasing the fitness areas, some terraces and a more welcoming entrance.
The original completion date was scheduled for this February, but due to unforeseen architectural issues, completion is now scheduled for the end of the summer.
The facilities have been open throughout the renovation process, only shutting down for precautionary measures. Finishing touches, such as landscaping and the arrival of furniture, will be completed during the summer, just in time for RIC’s open house on Aug. 25, and for the official opening the day thereafter.
The open house will allow students and the general public to tour the 70,000 square foot, $13 million facility.
“I am delighted that we will be able to provide these excellent new facilities for our students,” said RIC President Carriuolo, “I am looking forward to the celebration when the Recreation Center has its grand opening. I have toured the facilities and especially like the work-out room with its great view of the campus.”
“I’m glad there’s a place on campus where students can shower. I just wish there was stage,” said anthropology major Mike Gravel.
Meanwhile, a new Art Center – which is scheduled for completion in 2014 – underwent its ground- breaking ceremony on May 4. In the interim, the Art Center will remain operational, although some sections are closed. Since the entirety of the building will not be available, classes will be moved to Whipple Hall and Building 2 located on East Campus.
In 2010, Rhode Islanders voted in a referendum to fund the renovations for the Art Center at a cost of $17 million – the largest sum RIC has received for a given project.
Originally, the Art Center was utilized as a student center, and contained the cafeteria, library and study lounges. When the renovations are finished, the 54,000 square-foot facility will contain state-of-the- art utilities such as computer and photography labs, studios, workshop areas, multi-purpose presentation areas and a wraparound addition for classrooms and offices.
Jewelry manufacturer Alex and Ani, Inc. – a company in support of the arts and RIC’s own unique jewelry-making program – recently donated one million dollars towards the refurbished art building. The Board of Governors for Higher Education thus approved a request from RIC officials to rename the Art Center Alex and Ani Hall.
The completed Alex and Ani Hall could draw more students to the college and will provide the very best in fine arts education.
“I’m super excited for the students who will benefit from this renovation. I can only hope my college career drags on long enough so I get to enjoy it too,” said RIC art major Martha Sinclair.
Both projects are being coordinated with a master plan at RIC to modernize and revitalize the campus. The idea was first put forward in 2009, and Saratoga Associates was chosen for development of the project. The master plan is meant to create an architecturally integrated campus while supporting RIC’s mission statement and goals. Sustainability and the advancement of RIC’s Green Initiatives programs will be of vital importance.