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This master planning effort is part of a statewide initiative begun in 1997. Rhode Island College is one of the three state funded colleges and universities undertaking master plans at this time. It is anticipated that these master plans will be revisited and updated every ten years.

The planning team consisted of campus planners (Goody, Clancy & Associates), landscape architects (Carol R. Johnson & Associates), space planners, (Persis Rickes), traffic planners (Beta Associates), and signage/graphics (Jon Roll & Associates). The planning process began with numerous site visits and a careful analysis and description of how the major buildings and outdoor spaces of the College are organized and used. The team observed how people, both residents and visitors, arrived at precincts of the campus and moved through them by car or on foot. The team assessed the character and condition of buildings, roads and paths, and landscape features.

The Plan is a roadmap to help guide physical improvements to the campus that respond to issues raised by the administration, faculty, staff, and students. The recommendations in the Plan describe a compelling vision for the next ten years of growth and change on the campus. Recommended improvements are achievable in incremental, realistically fundable steps.


Rhode Island College began its institutional life in 1854 as the Rhode Island State Normal School. In 1898 a second building was added to its urban campus near the State House in Providence. In 1960 its mission broadened from primarily educating teachers to providing a more comprehensive liberal arts program. In 1958, the College moved from its downtown Providence Campus to its present suburban location in the Mt. Pleasant section of Providence, seeking sufficient space for the facilities needed for its expanded mission. In 1960 its name changed to Rhode Island College to reflect its new status and location.

In 1959 the campus consisted of 40 acres of former farmland and six modern buildings serving less than 900 students. Plans were made (Blair Associates Preliminary Study of Land Needs May 1959) to expand to accommodate 4000 students in 1980. By 1971 nearly 5000 students were using a campus that consisted of 15 major buildings on 121 acres, and plans (Sasaki, Dawson, DeMay Associates Pilot Plan Report Phase 1 July 1971) were made to accommodate nearly 9000 students by 1980. That report proposed guidelines for shaping the physical growth of the campus-new buildings, site improvements, and additional infrastructure-to accommodate increased enrollment. It anticipated several of the issues the College now faces-increasing traffic and desire for additional parking, and retaining and strengthening a clear sense of identity in a growing institution.

For demographic and economic reasons the steep growth in enrollment leveled in the late 1980's. Student profiles have changed however. There has been an increase in part-time students over the years. Many of these students live off campus and attend evening classes. Rhode Island College is not a self-contained academic village but, instead, a community-wide educational resource which generates constant coming and going activity. Current projections for future growth in enrollment are modest. As a consequence there are, for the foreseeable future, no significant needs for additional space that cannot be met through assimilation of the East Campus buildings and re-allocation of existing space on the main campus.


Unlike past plans, the current master planning effort is not so much a guide to growth, as it is a handbook for improving existing facilities on the campus. In addition to addressing the integration of the East Campus into the campus as a whole the Plan makes several other recommendations. Pedestrian circulation improvements to tie the east campus and the residential quadrangle to the main campus are illustrated by the Plan. The Plan recommends improvements to the arrival sequence and traffic circulation through the campus and suggests way of alleviating congestion, increasing safety, and strengthening orientation. The Plan shows how parking can be organized for the significant commuter population without overwhelming the campus setting. Ways in which existing and new campus spaces can be reinforced and linked with landscaping are demonstrated. The Plan strengthens the College's sense of institutional identity, and clarifying its image as an important public institution in Rhode Island.


Certain over-arching principles or attitudes have shaped the recommendations of this master plan. Future decisions should be measured against these guiding principles. They include:

• Unify the campus into a coherent whole

• Reinforce a positive identity and image for the College at gateways and edges

• Use landscape materials and buildings to reinforce spatial order

• Knit the campus together with a clear system of paths

• Reduce traffic congestion, rationalize parking, and dedicate the core campus to pedestrians.

• Organize the campus around well-formed, memorable open spaces each with a unique identity

Proposed Master Plan
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