This is the third master plan in the history of Rhode Island College and addresses several important issues that can best be characterized as those facing a stable institution that is maturing in its present site. Unlike past plans, the main purpose is not to anticipate and shape substantial growth. The College expects only modest increases in enrollment and no new buildings for the near term future. The Rhode Island College Master Plan (the Plan) focuses primarily on strategies for assimilating the approximately 100,000 square feet of buildings formerly occupied by the DCYF on the East Campus and ways to bridge the physical and perceptual distance between it and the main campus. The Plan also addresses the entry sequence from Mount Pleasant Street and Fruit Hill Avenue, campus wide circulation and parking, the residential quadrangle, and the connection from the quadrangle to the Mall.
Unify the campus by establishing a more clearly defined pedestrian network connecting the East Campus to the main campus, and linking parts of the main campus. This includes building on the attractive landscape character of the College, making landscape improvements, lighting improvements, path and roadway improvements, and other means to make the campus a more pleasant, secure, walkable academic community.
Connect the East Campus to the main campus by bringing the Loop Road (Cole Road to Library Road) through it. Simplify and expedite the traffic flow through the campus by making Library road and College Road two way. This allows greater flexibility for drivers, reducing congestion. It requires eliminating on street parking along Library Road, and replacing it elsewhere.
There are currently approximately 3200 parking spaces on campus. That number meets the overall parking needs of the College. Many of the spaces feel remote from the campus core, are in unattractive lots, and are perceived to be unsafe at night. The plan proposes relocating some spaces, and reshaping some lots to provide more efficient search patterns through the campus, more attractive lots, improve pedestrian safety and security, and open more green space in important parts of the campus. The guiding principle of the proposed changes to traffic and parking are to cause no net loss in green space (in fact to increase it) and to cause no net loss in the number of spaces (in fact to increase the convenience of parking.)
The Plan proposes potential uses for the newly acquired space on the East Campus, and speculates on uses for the space on the main campus freed as departments or units move to it. The goal of the recommendations is to make departments "whole" and to find uses that support the goals of unifying the campus by bringing convenient and regularly used functions together to the east campus. Consolidating some often used services on the East Campus will reduce traffic congestion on the Main Campus.
The Plan proposes a comprehensive signage program to strengthen the College's identity while making the campus more welcoming and easier to use for visitors and members of the College community.
Finally, the Plan describes a series of discreet, readily fundable improvements that can be the first steps in executing the vision for the campus. They include a major new campus space: The Oval, bridging the current gulf between the East Campus and the main campus. They include provisions for strengthening the sense of residential community, more gracious routes from the Residential Campus to the academic core, specific improvements to service areas and parking areas that make them more attractive and more functional. These "focus areas" include conceptual level cost estimates to help in capital planning.
A landscape handbook lists recommended details for campus-wide improvements. It describes typical sections, fixtures, furniture and plantings for general use when making future improvements in areas not specifically addressed in the plan.
The Plan embodies a unified and compelling vision that has engendered the enthusiasm of the College community. A guiding principle of the Plan is that this vision be achievable in incremental, realistically fundable steps. These steps are phased in the implementation section and budgets for each are summarized.