KINGSTON – The University of Rhode Island is having a busy summer, with construction crews and heavy equipment at three of its campuses working on $286 million worth of capital projects.
The work at the Kingston, Narragansett Bay and W. Alton Jones campuses is designed to enhance URI’s existing student residential, academic and athletic buildings and the school’s transportation infrastructure, the university said.
“URI is experiencing what could be a historic amount of construction activity undertaken in a very short time frame,” Vice President for Administration and Finance Abigail Rider said.
A major project is the $150 million College of Engineering complex, including the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering, set to open in the fall.
The new 190,000-square-foot facility will include research and classroom space for several engineering disciplines in a collaborative environment, as well as general university classrooms. A unique four-story “bridge” of three 270-foot trusses that span 158 feet will house teaching labs, departmental offices, research labs and graduate student areas.
A second phase of work set to be finished by January 2020 is the renovation of Bliss Hall to expand it by 15,000 square feet. The work 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.
Most of the funding for the projects is provided by two voter-approved bond issues.
Also set for completion in August is the first phase of work on the envelope of the Fine Arts Building. The $12.4 million project will remove exterior stucco and improve the roofs, heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
Another big-ticket project is the $94 million Brookside Apartments, a 500-bed residential area featuring apartment suites of six and four single-occupancy bedrooms. Each suite will be furnished and has a full kitchen and two bathrooms.
Among the amenities is a 40-seat café and an outdoor seating area that runs along the restored White Horn Brook and surrounding landscape. A foot bridge will connect Brookside to nearby residence halls.
URI said the building is designed for juniors and seniors and meets an increasing demand of returning students to stay on campus.
“From Brookside’s new café 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,” Rider said.
Several smaller projects are included in $20 million worth of work around campus-related to student services. These include electrical upgrades to the Roger Williams residential complex, roof replacement at several dorms, security camera installation at 28 locations and a renovation of Heathman Hall to provide study lounges for the Living/Learning Community for pharmacy and nursing students.
Meade Stadium is in line for a new $4.1 million artificial turf, lights and other upgrades for September. That project is supported by URI alumni, two of whom committed $1 million each. Of the total $4.1 million project, alumni contributed nearly $3 million, URI said.
Expected to be finished in December is a $2.9 million, two-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. It’s partially funded by a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management grant of $2.1 million.