DRAWING IT UP: The Rhode Island School of Design’s planned Illustration Studies Building renovation is expected to transform the 165-year-old, former factory building without changing its overall appearance or character.
The usual scrutiny aimed at alterations to historic campus buildings gets turned up a notch when they’re part of a premier art college with the word design in its name.
So Providence architect Ed Wojcik of Ed Wojcik Architect Ltd. and leaders at the Rhode Island School of Design used an especially light tough when drawing up a new addition for the school’s Illustration Studies Building.
In glass and a little brick, they designed a 5,600-square-foot, five-story extension that will allow a complete reworking of the 165-year-old former factory building without changing its overall appearance or character.
“The new addition is a jewel added to the rear of the building with a light connection of glass,” said Wojcik, a 1988 RISD graduate, about the project. “The only place we have taken out anything of historic value is removing the windows for corridor connection.”
The $21.1 million addition and renovation of the Illustration Building is RISD’s first major building project since the completion of the Chase Center in 2008 and sets the school up for potential long-range projects when it releases a new campus master plan next spring.
Although smaller than many construction projects on other Rhode Island college campuses, the Illustration Building is important to RISD and Providence because of its downtown riverfront location and the importance of the illustration department to the college.
Illustration is RISD’s most popular major, with 300 students taught by about 40 full-time and part-time faculty, and has a key place in the college’s identity.
School officials say in recent years it has become apparent that the 30,000-square-foot Illustration Building, built in 1848 for use as an industrial dye manufacturing plant, had become insufficient for the department’s needs.