RIC breaks ground on Art Center renovation and expansion

At the groundbreaking ceremony are, from left, Tony Ventetoulo, COO, ABM Group; Steven DePasquale, president, Iron Construction Group; Mark Schatz, principal, Schwartz/Silver; RIC President Nancy Carriuolo; David Finney, president, Design Partnership of Cambridge; RI Governor Lincoln Chafee; William Gearhart, RIC vice president for Administration and Finance; Jane Sherman, member of the RI Board of Governors for Higher Education; William Martin, RIC professor and chair Art Department and faculty project liaison; and Stephen Fisher, RIC professor of art and faculty project liaison. Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the RI State Council on the Arts, also attended the event.

At the groundbreaking ceremony are, from left, Tony Ventetoulo, COO, ABM Group; Steven DePasquale, president, Iron Construction Group; Mark Schatz, principal, Schwartz/Silver; RIC President Nancy Carriuolo; David Finney, president, Design Partnership of Cambridge; RI Governor Lincoln Chafee; William Gearhart, RIC vice president for Administration and Finance; Jane Sherman, member of the RI Board of Governors for Higher Education; William Martin, RIC professor and chair Art Department and faculty project liaison; and Stephen Fisher, RIC professor of art and faculty project liaison. Randall Rosenbaum, executive director of the RI State Council on the Arts, also attended the event.
On May 4, Rhode Island College held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Art Center renovation and expansion.The $17 million project is being funded by a state bond referendum approved by Rhode Island voters in November 2010. The net proceeds of that bond issue make it the largest ever approved for RIC.

The refurbished 54,000 square-foot facility will include a wrap-around addition and provide classrooms, art studios, workshop areas, slide library, photography and computers labs, faculty offices, and multipurpose presentation areas.


RIC President Nancy Carriuolo addresses attendees of the May 4 Art Center groundbreaking ceremony.
RIC President Nancy Carriuolo said, “The arts help build bridges of understanding and are an important pillar of a liberal arts education at Rhode Island College. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony represents our continued commitment to building a world-class art program at Rhode Island College. By placing all our art programs under one roof and providing a state-of the-art learning environment, we are ensuring that our emerging artists will have the very best resources to nurture their skills.”

Currently, there are 15 full-time faculty members who teach art programs and serve approximately 240 undergraduate majors, 30 minors and 25 graduate majors. Approximately 2,000 students per year take classes in the facility.

The new art facility is expected to increase those numbers and become a major draw in recruiting new students. The soon-to-be-renovated building opened in 1958 as a Student Center, housing the library, cafeteria, bookstore and study lounges. In 1971, work began to transition the structure into the current Art Center, which was completed in 1976.

“It is now the Art Center’s turn to begin its transformation into a modern, state-of-the-art facility worthy of RIC’s magnificent art faculty and talented students,” said Carriuolo.

The first phase of the renovation project is expected to be completed by January 2013, with the second and final phase to be finished by January 2014.

Governor Lincoln Chafee said, “The arts are an important component of a quality liberal arts education, as well as a major driver of Rhode Island’s creative economy. This new facility will bring tremendous benefits to RIC students and faculty, and its renovation will support good jobs in our struggling construction industry. This project is a win-win for Rhode Islanders, and I am pleased that the voters chose once again to support higher education in our state.”

During the course of construction, classes will be held in Whipple Hall, in Building 2 on the East Campus and in the existing art building where work is not taking place. The general contractor is Iron Construction Group of Warwick. The architectural firm is Design Partnership of Cambridge, Inc.