KINGSTON, R.I. — July 11, 2019 — Ah, the sights, sounds and aromas of summer on a university campus — birds singing, flowers blooming, leaves rustling in the breeze and new students laughing and smiling tentatively as their orientation leaders try to make them feel at home.
At the University of Rhode Island’s Kingston Campus, you can also add the sensory barrage of bulldozers, dump trucks, forklifts and backhoes, crews wearing hard hats and bright green and orange vests and of course traffic and parking changes. The results of this construction ballet will be more dynamic, comfortable and technological student neighborhoods; teaching, learning and research space; athletic facilities and transportation systems.
There are the major projects like the $150 million College of Engineering complex, including the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, which when opened in the fall, will set a new global standard for engineering education and research and the 500-bed, $94 million Brookside Apartments, which will open in January 2020. But also well underway are numerous shorter term, but still important projects, including the overhaul of Fraternity Circle utilities and roadway, a new spur from the William C. O’Neill Bike path to the Kingston Campus, and the installation of artificial turf and lights at Meade Stadium, the home of URI football.
“URI is experiencing what could be a historic amount of construction activity undertaken in a very short timeframe,” said Vice President for Administration and Finance Abigail Rider. “From Brookside’s new cafe and beautiful park-like landscaping to the transformational Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, we will be welcoming back our students, faculty and staff to some of the best living, learning, athletic and recreational facilities in the world.”
When the Kingston Campus projects are combined with work being done at the Narragansett Bay Campus and the W. Alton Jones Campus, the investment totals $286 million. They will enhance the University’s existing student residential facilities and infrastructure, academic buildings, research and active learning spaces, athletic facilities, transportation and sustainability programs and even the historic Watson Farm House, the only building remaining from the original farm purchased in 1888 to establish the state agricultural school that become the University.
Here are some highlights:
- Fine Arts Building Envelope, Phase 1, $12.4 million, completion August 2019
- Exterior stucco being removed, underground work completed
- New unit masonry exterior, roofs, replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning system
- College of Engineering, $150 million, with majority of funding provided by two voter-approved bond issues. New building, named the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, set to open fall 2019, with a renovated Bliss Hall to open January 2020. Will house more and better teaching and learning spaces and more opportunities for Rhode Island businesses to work with students and faculty in a facility that will house the best technology and equipment. Students will graduate as innovators and leaders, ready to move Rhode Island into a new era of prosperity.
- The new 190,000-square-foot facility will include research and classroom space for chemical, electrical, computer, biomedical, mechanical, industrial and systems, and civil and environmental engineering in a collaborative environment, as well as general University classrooms.
- A unique structural system will be used for the central portion of the Fascitelli Center. A four-story “Bridge” will consist of three, 270-foot trusses that span 158 feet. The trusses are 40 feet apart. The Bridge will house teaching labs, departmental offices, research labs and graduate student areas.
- Phase 2 is a renovation of Bliss Hall, with an addition of 15,000 square feet is partially funded with three grants from the Governor’s Commission on Disability totaling $578,000. Bliss Hall, which was built in 1928, is the historic home of the College of Engineering.
Brookside Apartments, $94 million, completion set for January 2020
- Will primarily feature apartment suites of six and four single-occupancy bedrooms. Each suite will be furnished and has a full kitchen and two bathrooms.
- Will feature a 40-seat cafe and an outdoor seating area that runs along restored White Horn Brook and surrounding landscape. The Cafe will be the first facility inside a housing unit at URI run by the nationally recognized URI Dining Services. A footbridge will connect Brookside to nearby residence halls.
- Will encourage connection among students, facilitate learning in comfortable, small study areas, help students learn life skills, like how to plan and prepare meals, and emphasize the importance of green spaces and sustainable transportation options. Meets increasing demand of returning students to stay on campus. Designed for juniors and seniors.
- Other Division of Student Affairs projects, $20 million
- Electrical upgrades in the Roger Williams residential complex, including electrical infrastructure, substantial completion by end of August.
- Roof replacement at Aldrich, Burnside, Adams, Coddington, Dorr, Ellery and Hopkins residence halls. Aldrich, Burnside, Adams completed, February 2019; Coddington, Dorr, Ellery and Hopkins set for completion end of August.
- Security camera installation at 28 locations.
- Fraternity Circle transformation, Phase 1, utilities, completion set for September 2019
- Renovation of Heathman Residence Hall to provide study lounges for the Living/Learning Community for pharmacy and nursing students
Athletics, $4.1 million for installation of artificial turf and lights and other upgrades at Meade Stadium, home of URI Rams football, completion set for September 2019
- Meant to accelerate the growth of the football program and expand the facility’s use. The new surface and lights will provide a durable field with increased options for television broadcasts, night games, and a variety of University and community events, including club and intramural sports.
- Project supported by University of Rhode Island alumni two of whom committed $1 million each. Of the total $4.1 million project, alumni contributed nearly$3 million
Next milestones, setting of light pole bases and artificial turf arriving in July
- First home football game under the lights Sept. 7
- Bike path extension, $2.9 million, completion expected December 2019
A 2-mile extension from the William C. O’Neill Bike Path that will provide direct access to the University’s Kingston Campus. Paving has been completed through Peckham Farm to Route 138, where the path will continue to the Kingston Campus and end at Brookside Hall
- The bike path connector is a key element in the University’s Campus Master Plan, which calls for enhanced pedestrian and improved bicycle access on campus, including bike lanes on campus roads and additional bike racks. Plans call for a special hand-activated signal to assist cyclists and pedestrians in crossing Route 138.
- Partially funded by a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management grant of $2,181,390