RIC pursues $38 million bond to renovate Clarke Science

Alexis Rapoza

News Editor

Photo by Vanessa Coelho

PROVIDENCE, R.I., -- Rhode Island College has announced that the completion of the renovation of Horace Mall Hall, which houses the School of Education and Human Development, will be in the Spring of 2022 with construction commencing this upcoming spring.


Horace Mann Hall began undergoing construction early this year. The project is estimated to cost approximately $25 million and will add an additional six new classrooms and three new seminars as well as new faculty offices and student collaboration spaces. According to a Capital Improvement Plan submitted by the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner in 2018, the renovations will “replace technology from the late 1950s and early 1960s with more energy-efficient systems.”


The renovation of Horace Mann Hall is part of Rhode Island College’s decade-long master plan which has included approximately $115 million in facility upgrades in the last five years. In 2009, RIC enlisted the services of New York-based Landscape Architectural company, Saratoga Services to help implement the changes to the RIC campus.


According to the 2010-2020 Master Plan, several of the buildings on the RIC campus were built when the school relocated to Providence in 1958 and rated as in “poor” condition. The initial evaluation of the campus in 2009 also claimed that the buildings did “not fulfill learning environment needs for 21 century higher education.” Buildings that have been renovated since 2010 include several residence halls, Gaige Hall, Craig-Lee Hall, Alex and Ani, and the addition of the Nursing building in Fogarty Life Sciences.


Most notably, after the completion of Horace Mann, Clarke Science is the next building expected to undergo construction. On November 3, Providence residents will vote on whether to approve or reject $140 million in bonds and notes to finance construction and renovations of school facilities. Should this bond be approved Rhode Island College will receive $38 million to fund the reconstruction of Clarke Science.


In the school’s request for funding for Clarke Science in 2019, Rhode Island College asserted that Clarke Science has “significant deferred maintenance” and the reconstruction of the science building will “align with RIC’s Future in life science, physical science, and technology degree programs to support RI economy.”


In a letter to the Chair of the House Finance Committee in July of this year, President of the Rhode Island College Alumni Association, Michael Smith, urged the General Assembly to approve the school’s funding request. Smith stated, “The Clarke Science Building is nearly sixty years old. Designed in another era, it is today woefully inadequate for its purpose. Issues with power, HVAC, plumbing, circulation, and other basic concerts impede the learning process for today’s students. It was also constructed at a time when the enrollment at Rhode Island College was barely more than a thousand. Today, the building must serve more than six times that number.”


In addition to Clarke Science, one of the oldest buildings on campus is Whipple Hall, which houses the Communications Department and multimedia and computer labs, is still awaiting construction. Whipple Hall was built in 1958 and initially designed as the school’s gymnasium. In 1987, Whipple underwent a large renovation that converted it into labs, classrooms, and office spaces. According to the 2010 Master Plan facilities assessment, Whipple Hall was rated as in “poor condition.” The building has notable temperature, HVAC and structural deficiencies. The facilities assessment also asserted, “Soundproofing and user comfort levels are a primary concern, as a classroom program is located directly above the steam plant in the basement.”


It is unclear when Whipple Hall is slated to undergo renovation.


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