RISD Breaks Ground on Long-Awaited Residence Hall

By Aziza Jackson

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Shawmut Design and Construction joined the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to break ground on the institute’s first new student residence in 30 years.

Designed by award-winning architect and RISD alumnus Nader Tehrani and his Boston-based firm NADAAA, the new 43,500-square-foot residence hall will house 153 students on six floors. Part of a larger quad enhancement project, it will feature amenities like workrooms, makerspace, bike storage, a shared kitchen, and outdoor terrace, and upon completion, it will allow for the phased renovations of Nickerson and Homer Halls.

“We’re incredibly proud to build RISD its first new residence facility in 30 years,” said Ron Simoneau, vice president at Shawmut. “With collaboration, paired with Shawmut’s IPD and lean construction principles, at the center of the construction and design teams approach, I am confident this project will be a success while marking a transformational moment for the campus.”

Slated to open in August 2019, the state-of-the-art project will engage an Integrated Project Delivery Method (IPD) to collaboratively fuse the talents of the team. The innovative design is influenced by thoughtful input from the campus community, including common spaces for socializing, making, reflecting and creative expression, and is tailored to meet the needs of RISD’s art and design students.

The new residence hall will be located at 60 Waterman St. on the campus’ residential quad. Site work on the new residence building began this August and included excavation and retaining wall construction. In June 2019, renovation of Nickerson Hall begins and is expected to be completed in August 2020. At that time, Homer Hall Phase 1 renovation will begin and will be completed in January 2021. Phase 2 of the Homer Hall renovation begins in January 2021 and will be complete in August of that same year.

Construction of the new residence hall is one facet of RISD’s 2015 Campus Master Plan. One update to the original plan was that RISD engaged NADAAA in the fall of 2016 for a study of the campus’ residential quad. The goals of the study were to develop 500 beds of interconnected first-year housing on the residential quad, to allow for the renovation of Homer and Nickerson Halls to address deferred maintenance while maintaining overall bed count, to create student-centered common spaces, to improve campus and city connections to the residential quad in order to maximize accessibility to and within the residential quad, to address sustainability, and to provide updated space for existing administrative offices.

NADAAA’s work over the academic year included numerous meetings with campus constituents, a student survey, monthly meetings with the campus project team, presentations to the Board of Trustees in October, February and June, development of multiple options that were reduced through the project team, Campus Master Plan Committee and Board meetings to a final scheme that was presented to the Board in June of 2017.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer a new residence hall that so fully supports the education we offer our students,” said Jack Silva, vice president of RISD Campus Services. “Planning the residence hall has been a true collaborative effort and we are pleased to be working again with alumnus Nader Tehrani and to have Shawmut as a partner in leading the project.”