EAST CAMPUS OCCUPANCY
The property currently known as the "East Campus" of Rhode Island College presents a striking opportunity for the College in terms of re-organizing existing campus space, enhancing instructional and support space where required, and promoting collaboration and synergy. The timing is also exceptional, as it has been made available to the College during a period of shifting educational demands.
The main campus is composed of some two dozen significant academic and administrative buildings. As will be noted later, a number of academic departments and administrative units are split among two or more buildings as a result of growth or change over time.
The following reflects the primary occupants of the major campus facilities:
academic: Management & Technology
administrative: Computer LabSPACE NEEDS and ISSUES
During early 1999, interviews and focus groups were conducted with key administrators, faculty, and staff at Rhode Island College. The intent of these meetings was to solicit input pertaining to current space use, projected needs, and opportunities for interaction with other departments or units. Interviewees were also asked to provide observations pertaining to campus space as a whole.
A number of common themes emerged from these various meetings. First and foremost is that departments and units are frequently fragmented, split between two buildings and sometimes three. This is not necessarily conducive to fostering efficient working relationships. It also creates potential hardships for students who need to conduct business with administrative offices or meet with faculty members.
Classrooms are a particular issue as, over time, a significant amount of classroom space has been converted to other uses, especially offices. According to the Registrar's list of schedulable spaces, there are currently 58 rooms with the designation of either classroom or seminar room. During peak periods, it is difficult to find appropriate classroom spaces, either in terms of size or technology.
A cursory classroom needs assessment suggests that upwards of 25 additional general purpose classrooms are required to meet current and projected instructional requirements. This figure does not include classrooms anticipated to come on line as part of currently planned renovation projects, or a need to replace poor quality or underutilized spaces. There is also an emerging interest in small group rooms to promote collaborative learning activities.
Ideally, classroom spaces should be clustered wherever possible. For example, there are two classrooms now in Adams Library that should be replaced and the space returned to Library use. Meanwhile, Whipple Hall, although in a central location, would not be a particularly good facility for classrooms because of the costs associated with installing proper HVAC service. It is evident that the classroom issue will require additional review to accurately verify the need and appropriate distribution of required spaces.
Office space continues to be at a premium on campus and other than converted classroom space, there has been little opportunity to create additional offices. Many offices are shared and/or in overall poor condition.
East Campus presently consists of 10 separate buildings previously occupied by the Department of Children, Youth and Family Services as residential and administrative space. Collectively, these facilities encompass 102,104 gross square feet of space. The square footages associated with these various facilities are summarized below:
Building 1 is now temporarily occupied by the School of Social Work while Buildings 4 and 10 are presently unoccupied and available for assignment. In addition, Building 5 was recently vacated. The remaining buildings vary as to when they will be available for use by RIC. The near-term, then, will focus on the potential occupants of Buildings 1, 4, 5, and 10. Collectively, these four facilities contain a total of 35,422 gross square feet.
The current thinking is that Social Work will relocate to Building 9, the largest facility and most capable in terms of accommodating the full space requirements of Social Work. It is expected that this facility will be available in three years, the last of the cottages to be turned over for occupancy. Once Social Work moves to Building 9, then Building 1 becomes available for assignment. Again, current thinking suggests that the Psychology Department will occupy this particular facility. This would include offices as well as perhaps some modest instructional space.
The following reflects current square footages associated with functions that might be candidates for relocation to East Campus in the near-term, while Buildings 4, 5, and 10 are available. This list primarily reflects administrative units although one academic department, Psychology, has been included. The current location of these functions is also shown:
Ideally, Office Services, Publishing Services, and the Mailroom would like to co-locate given their similar requirements and ability to share spaces. This combination of functions currently occupies a combined total of just over 11,000 square feet. Similarly, Accounting, Bursar, Payroll, and Purchasing would like to share facilities and currently occupy approximately 5,400 square feet. Financial Aid and the Records Office also share some affinity with each other (6,000 square feet now) as well as with the previously mentioned group. If located in one or two buildings, this could create a true "one stop" for student services.
It is clear that not all of these functions will fit into the three buildings currently available. It should also be noted that the square footages shown above reflect current square footages and not necessarily the space required if the various functions were to relocate. There is also a need for swing space for the occupants of Alger, which is slated to undergo renovations shortly. This need may take precedence over co-locating administrative activities at this time.
Finally, there are still six buildings that remain to be programmed. Although it is premature to make firm decisions at this time, especially in light of scheduling issues, other options to consider might include a Literacy Center (a recently proposed campus initiative), day care (which would replace existing day care space), and art studio space for faculty and students.
The gradual shifting of selected administrative and academic functions from the campus core to the East Campus area will set into motion a series of space reallocation strategies. This series of moves will not only unify fragmented functional areas, but will bring the East Campus space into alignment with the rest of the campus.
The move of Psychology to the East Campus, for example, will make the department "whole" while freeing up space at key locations on campus. The majority of Psychology is now located in Mann. If this space is released, then priority for occupancy might be given to Educational Studies or Counseling and Educational Psychology, either of which are particularly appropriate occupants of this facility. The move of Psychology will also open up some offices in Adams and Gaige.
The move of Counseling and Educational Psychology would free up space at the rear of Adams Library. This area houses 18 offices as well as a conference room and kitchen. This space would provide an opportunity for a small to medium department to be made "whole." One option for this space might be the Communications Department, where it would have access to the television studio.
If Office Services, Publishing Services, and the Mailroom were relocated to the East Campus, space would be made available in Alger and Craig-Lee where it would most likely become classroom and/or office space. The relocation of Accounting, Bursar, Payroll, and Purchasing, and perhaps Financial Aid and Records, would also free up space in Alger and Craig-Lee as well as a substantial amount of space in Roberts Hall.
It is clear that the 100,000 gross square feet of space available on the East Campus will significantly influence campus dynamics ranging from how offices relate to each other across the entire campus, to physical circulation patterns for both pedestrians and vehicles. Given the role that the East Campus will play, it should no longer be referred to as "East Campus" as that implies a separation. Ironically, one of the main entrances to the RIC campus may actually "shift" towards this area as a consequence of the functions to be located here.