Rhode Island College’s renovation of Horace Mann Hall, the primary building for the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, is almost complete. This building, located next to the Henry Barnard School, hadn’t been worked on since being first built and dedicated in 1971, and contained outdated technology.
“The goal was to modernize it. The building hadn’t been touched since I believe the 60s when it was originally constructed,” Stephen Nedder, Vice President for Administration and Finance at RIC, said while describing the goals for this project. “A lot has changed in teaching. So, with this renovation, it allows all the departments within the School of Education to co-locate under one building as well as have a few classrooms built to what’s considered modern standards.”
Nedder said that RIC is looking at a certificate of occupancy for the renovated Horace Mann Hall on Nov. 21. Afterward, the building is expected to be fully finished “about a month later.”
“That one month will allow us to get back in the building, finish the IT setup, [and] get the faculty moved back into their offices,” Nedder added.
A $25 million general obligation bond was passed by voters with 59.47% of the vote in 2018 for this project, meaning the debt payments are paid for by the state of Rhode Island, not RIC.
“Right now, we’re on track to actually probably be a little bit lower than the original budget anticipated. There’s still a lot of things to play out in terms of change orders and things that the contractor might come back for. But we anticipate coming in under budget for the project,” Nedder said.
Construction was originally supposed to be finished earlier this year, but a variety of factors led to a delay in the project being finished on time.
“We are just coming out of the pandemic, we hope. And I think that has caused us some challenges through the project,” Kevin Fitta, Director of Capital Projects at RIC, explained. “The contractor has had challenges getting enough labor onto the job site. So we’re working with less staff on the job site than we’d like to see. And that slows down work, and that has really been the primary driver for the slow down aside from there may have been some materials that were delayed in delivery earlier on in the project. But we’re not experiencing those issues now.”
Since the planning and purchasing of materials for this project started pre-COVID, inflation and economic challenges facing the U.S. didn’t impact anything. However, it will impact the cost for the next project after Horace Mann: Renovation of the Clarke Science building.
In 2021, a bond approved by voters with 58% of the vote earmarked $38 million for renovating Clarke Science. Due to the current state of the economy, the cost for this project is estimated to now be around $55 million.
As for where RIC is in the process of beginning construction, Fitta said, “We anticipate early construction materials orders happening very soon for that project and to get into active construction next Spring and Summer.”
Clarke Science’s renovation will be done by Dimeo Construction. Nedder said the next major project along with Clarke Science would be the Student Services Center, which is “currently earmarked to be funded with the state’s ARPA money.”
Nedder added that requests by RIC for the 2024 bond cycle would include a renovation of the Fogarty Life Science building. Following that would be a request in the 2026 cycle for a renovation of Whipple Hall.