Rhode Island School of Design Completes Phase Two of Quad Block Enhancement Project with Reopening of Nickerson Hall

PROVIDENCE, RI (September 14, 2020) – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has completed renovations to its Nickerson Hall residence, marking the end of phase two of the multiyear Quad block enhancement project, which includes multiple housing structures and a dining facility. Originally built in 1957, Nickerson Hall’s structure and original slate roof were repaired and additional enhancements were made to support students and RISD’s vision for a sustainable future. The Quad block’s newly-built North Hall opened in 2019, and Homer Hall renovations are slated for completion in 2021.

“We are excited to see the vision of the Quad block enhancement project coming together,” notes President Rosanne Somerson. “The innovative and enduring renovations are helping our community to meet the needs of today’s students and fully support RISD’s unique form of education.”
The various Quad block renovations and expansions were designed by award-winning architect and RISD Architecture alumnus Nader Tehrani (RISD ’86) with fellow principals Arthur ChangGretchen Neeley (RISD ’87) in collaboration with Richard Lee (RISD ‘96) and their Boston-based firm NADAAA. The Masterplan was prepared in collaboration with Katherine Faulkner. Developed in the 1950s, RISD’s core campus was designed by local architects Cull, Robinson and Green with nationally known architect Pietro Belluschi acting as a consultant.

Nickerson Hall now provides 117 beds for students, and common spaces for socializing and making have been incorporated within the building. As part of the renovation, a new Nickerson East façade forms a public front to the new Nickerson Green—to be completed in May 2021. Eco-friendly features include Energy Recovery Ventilation attic units and an upgrade to the building’s exterior, which will improve thermal performance.
“At the start of this project, our goal was to ensure student health and wellness while staying true to our broader institutional vision—as set forth in RISD’s new strategic plan—and contributing to a sustainable planet,” says Somerson. “I am proud of how the RISD community, including students and alumni, have contributed to this vision. We look forward to completing the final phase of this project and seeing how the Quad block will foster student growth for years to come.”

The work was completed through a collaborative design process using an integrated project delivery (IPD) “lean” model with close collaboration between RISD, NADAAA, Shawmut Construction, technical consultants, trade partners and commodity trades. Project highlights include:


  • Building’s exterior thermal performance was upgraded with new pvc windows, curtainwall and new continuous insulation installed at the interior side of all exterior walls and attic floor.
  • Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) units installed in attic for air exchange energy conservation.
  • Point-of-use heating and cooling with fan coils in each room for individual room control, operable windows for passive cooling.
  • Environmentally friendly fixtures used throughout the building, including LED lighting, toilets and appliances.

New Shared Spaces and Amenities:

  • 2,500-sf open floor workroom including spray booth and cleaning station.
  • 1,000-sf new entry lounge and kitchenette at Level 1 Connector.
  • New 240-sf Level 1 flex lounge.
  • Upgraded 400-sf Level 2 connector lounge.
  • Upgraded stairwells with full height storefront glazing for views onto the new green.
  • Upgraded laundry room with three washers/dryers.
  • New elevator with full building access.
  • Common use bathrooms with privatized stalls.

About Rhode Island School of Design

RISD’s mission, through its college and museum, is to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation. The college’s strategic plan NEXT: RISD 2020–2027 sets an ambitious vision for educating students for the future and bringing creative practices to bear on the creation of just societies, a sustainable planet and new ways of making and knowing. RISD’s immersive model of art and design education, which emphasizes critical making through studio-based learning and robust study in the liberal arts, prepares students to intervene in the critical challenges of our time. Working with exceptional faculty and in extraordinary specialized facilities, 2,500 students from 69 countries engage in 42 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. RISD’s 30,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of this model of education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region. Find more information at risd.edu.

High-resolution imagery of this project available here. Photography credits: John Horner

Media Contact: Christina Allan