Rhode Island College’s Clarke Science building is undergoing massive renovations, expected to be complete by Spring 2025 and move in beginning that same summer. The project commenced and officially started in May 2023. To kick start the project, laborers had to close most of the building and create additional laboratory spaces in Whipple Hall and Fogarty Life Sciences. Compared to prior labor and COVID-19 issues in the previous project, Horace Mann Hall, this renovation is anticipated to be completed on time.
In 2021, Providence residents voted and approved a $38 million budget to fund the redevelopment. However, the current estimated budget is $56.5 million due to inflation. To combat this higher cost, Stephen Nedder, Vice President for Administration and Finance at RIC, told The Anchor that the College is receiving additional Rhode Island Capital Asset Protection (RICAP) funds to cover the difference between the bond issuance and the current project costs.
In a previous statement made during the project's proposal, the former President of the Rhode Island College Alumni Association, Michael Smith, urged the General Assembly to approve the project because the building is nearly 60 years old and has significant HVAC, general infrastructure and plumbing issues. Clarke Science was built when RIC’s enrollment was around 1,000 students. As the population of RIC students grows, the building needs to be able to accommodate more students. The building was previously rated in “poor condition”, so these updates will create a safer and positive environment.
Kevin Fritta, the Assistant Vice President for Administration at RIC, explains to The Anchor all the new updates students can expect to see. The building will have all new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems for the infrastructure. As for accessibility, there will be two gender-neutral bathrooms, a lactation room, a student lounge and collaboration areas. Additionally, the building will have more natural lighting to create a more welcoming environment.
In order to accommodate the increase in students in educational spaces, classrooms will be able to hold sixty students. There will be nine teaching laboratories and research spaces for students and educators. The goal of these changes is to make teaching more accessible and comfortable for a large number of students and professors and keep the building up to all building, fire and standards of accessible design.
The current capital improvement plan budget currently reflects the following projects to be proposed. Fogarty Life Science modernization will be on the November 2024 ballot with a proposal of $85 million. Whipple Hall and Steam Plant modernization will be on the Nov. 2026 ballot proposed at $46 million.
These projects will align with the goal of modernization for the 21st century student.