Community Buildings

The Rhode island College campus includes several buildings designed for use by the community as a whole, for dining, recreation, or events.   The original six ­building campus included the Student Center for this purpose, but the expansion of the campus has provided a variety of dedicated spaces for the campus community.

Fred J. Donovan Dining Center Complex (1962)

For  twenty-eight  years  Fred  J. Donovan  served Rhode Island College as a member of the English faculty, while also holding the offices of Dean of Men (1 940-1966), Vice President (1944-1 960), and acting President (1950-1952).[1] Born in Providence and a LaSalle Academy alumnus, he graduated from Manhattan College and earned a Master of Arts de­gree from the University of Detroit.  After a brief stint in elementary and secondary schools, he joined the faculty at Providence College in 1931, and in 1938 h e arrived at the Rhode Island College of Edu­cation . In 1941  Catholic Teachers College awarded Donovan an honorary degree, and on October 20, 1962 Rhode Island College paid tribute to him at the dedication of its new dining center. He died in 1980 at the age of 83.

Fred Donovan

Fred Donovan

The Fred J . Donovan Dining Center was designed by Lamborghini, Christoph, and Pip­ka. The original design was an International Style building with a flat roof and window walls on every facade, providing patrons unobstructed views of the campus and allow­ing those outside to peer in, blurring the line between the outdoors and indoors and connecting the building with its site. Alterations in later years have obscured much of the original design, removing the mid-century modern qualities and replacing them with more contemporary features, such as brick cladding and a low-pitched hipped roof over a relocated entryway.  With the additions of the Ducey Media Center and Faculty Cen­ter to the rear of the building, Donovan is now a sprawling complex with little visible of its original design.

The original dining hall in his name (photo: RIC Archives)

The original dining hall in his name (photo:
RIC Archives)

Donovan Dining Center as it stands today (photo: www.ric.edu)

Donovan Dining Center as it stands today (photo: www.ric.edu)

James P. Adams Library (1963/1979)

As chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Trustees of State Colleges, a position he held from 1955-1960, James Pickwell Adams provided leadership at the time the Mount Pleasant campus of Rhode Island College was under development. In recog­nition of his supportive ef­forts, the College named its first library building in his honor.  Born in Michigan in 1895, Adams began his career in 1919 by teaching at his alma mater, the University of Michigan. [2]He joined the Economics faculty of Brown University in 1921 and from 1932 to 1945 served as Vice­ President.  Adams then went back to the University of Michigan where  he served  as provost until his retirement in 1951.  He returned to Rhode Island and in 1955 was ap­pointed  to the Board of Trustees of State Colleges.  Tn Rhode Island  Dr. Adams  was noted for his involvement in fair housing and received the National Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.[3]  He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1966.  He died in 1969.

adamsDigging

James P. Adams breaks ground for construction of Adams Library

James P. Adams Library, the educational and research hub of the college, was designed by Lester J. Millman Associates in May 1963.  The original  design  provided  room for expansion, and a mezzanine designed by Lamborghini and Pipka[4] on the ground level was added in 1966. Millman was a New England regional architect and Adams Library was listed as one of his principal works  in the 1970 American Institute of Architects Directory.[5] In  addition to the Rhode Island College library, Millman designed other educational buildings including the Art Center at the University of Rhode Island and the Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School in Providence.

The Rhode Island College Campus Development Plan for 1960-1980, published in 1959, had recommended a U-shaped li­brary, forming its own courtyard and facing into the larger established quadrangle[6]. This plan suggested two stages of construction, the first from 1962-1969 and a further addition in 1970. The additional space would serve to address the anticipated issues of high enrollment and overcrowding on the new campus.[7]

The 1977 addition to the back side of Adams Library added 50,000 square feet. Pictured above, the backside  of the library prior to the addition. (photo: RIC Archives)

The 1977 addition to the back side of Adams Library added 50,000 square feet. Pictured above, the backside of the library prior to the addition.
(photo: RIC Archives)

Millman’s design differed from the proposal of Blair Associates in the Campus Develop­ment Plan; the first phase of the library was a rectangular, flat-roofed structure atop a knoll with a sparse colonnade facing  the quadrangle.  Slate cladding accentuates the building’s sleek white trim , and provides texture to the otherwise unornamented design. The building draws clear influence from the American Embassy in New Delhi, designed by noted Modern architect Edward Durrell  Stone in 1954, and imitates the building’s massing and colonnade.

Top: The original Adams Library built in 1963  (photo: RIC Archives) Bottom:   The American Embassy in New Delhi, designed by  Edward Durrell Stone in 1954 (photo: EDSToneArchpaper.com)

Top: The original Adams Library built in 1963 (photo: RIC Archives)
Bottom: The American Embassy in New Delhi, designed by Edward Durrell Stone in 1954 (photo: EDSToneArchpaper.com)

By 1977, Donald J. Prout and Associates had designed the second phase of library construc­tion: a 50,000 square foot addi­tion ,  and major changes to the internal plan of the existing building.[8]The new wing provid­ed  additional space for periodi­cals and  seating. Like Lester Mill­man, Prout had extensive design experience in the education and public sectors, designing school buildings in Exeter and Warwick as well as the round John E. Fogarty Medical and Rehabilitation Unit building at the Ladd School in Exeter. Among his commissions, Prout includes public libraries in Barrington, Cranston, East  Providence, Scituate, and  Portsmouth.[9]  His design for the Adams Library addi tion was influenced by the Brutalist school of architecture, with heavy concrete piers and spandrels dividing the facades into symmetrical sections. The projecting cornice contributes to the top-heavy feeling found  in many Brutalist buildings.

Student Union (1968)

The Student Union is named in honor of the students of Rhode Island College.  Students actively participated  in its planning, and portions of the construction were financed through student fees.  Designed by Lamborghini and Pipka, the building was planned to include games and recreation areas, a ballroom to be used for special events, administra­tive offices for student organizations, and areas for study. [10] Light colored brick and a flat roof coordinate with other campus buildings, and an overhanging fourth story with narrow windows originally complimented the design of the nearby Walsh Center, also done by Lamborghini and Pipka, which was destroyed by fire in 1992.

union2
The two entrances to the re-designed Student Union (photos: ww.ric.edu

The two entrances to the re-designed Student Union (photos: ww.ric.edu)

Since its completion in 1968, the Student Union has undergone several extensive renovations. In 1998, William D. Warn­er, Architects – the firm that would go on to de­sign the John  Nazarian Center for the Perform­ing Arts – conducted  a feasibility  and  redesign study of the building in collaboration with a com­ mittee composed of fac­ulty  and  students.  In renovating  the  building in  2002, Robinson Green Beretta (RGB) added  a  new  entrance facing  the  quadrangle, relocated  elevators  and staircases, expanded the restrooms,  and  added student mailboxes and a cafe to replace a former bar (the Rathskeller ) and a coffee shop (the Coffee Ground).

Dr. Michael F. Walsh Health and Physical Education Center (1965/1992)

Dr. Michael F. Walsh served as the Rhode Island Commissioner of Education from 1947-1963 and, ex-officio, on the Board of Trustees of State Colleges.  He led efforts to increase support for public education, assisted with the development of a state schol­arship program, and supported the newly created special education and industrial arts programs.  Born in Newport and graduating from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, he began his career at Rogers High School where he taught English, served as coach and athletic director, and  later became Dean of Boys and Assis­tant Principal.  After retir­ing in 1963,  he took on the position of Dean of Admissions and Professor of Education at Newport’s Vernon Court Junior Col­lege.  He  was  awarded honorary degrees of Doc­tor of Education  by Bry­ant College and Catholic Teachers College as well as an honorary Doctor of Science from the Rhode Island College of Pharma­cy.  On December 9, 1965, in a convocation held in the new building, Rhode Island College bestowed upon him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and formally dedi­cated the Michael F. Walsh Health and Physi­cal Education Center.[11]

The Walsh Health and Physical Education Center before and after the fire that destroyed the building in 1992. (photos: RIC Archives)

The Walsh Health and Physical Education Center before and after the fire that destroyed the building in 1992. (photos: RIC Archives)

Designed  by Lamborghini  and Pipka and built in 1965, the Walsh Center was the col­lege’s  first  major  sports  arena. It included  a  basketball  court  with  seating  area  for sports events, a main gymnasium  area, ticket booths, specialized  sports rooms and rec­reation areas, and a press box. The fortress-like building included a recessed first story with boxy concrete columns supporting the second level.  Narrow windows and a geo­metric roof on the eastern facade facing the quadrangle provided interesting design fea­tures, while light colored brick and the building’s horizontal qualities helped it blend with other campus buildings.

In 1992 the Michael F. Walsh Health and Physical Education Center was destroyed by fire, and in 1993 it was replaced with the Health, Physical Education, and Athletic Cen­ter, which was renamed in 2003 as the Murray Center.

The Murray Center (1995)

The loss in 1992 of the Walsh Gymnasium created an immediate need for a new physical education complex.  Designed by Robinson Green Beretta (RGB) Architects and com­pleted in 1995 on the same site, the new Health, Physical Education , and Athletic Center was as a state of the art facility for sports events and training, athletic administrative offices, and conference rooms.  On April 16, 2003 Rhode Island College officially re­ named the complex to honor two alumnae sisters, Mary F. Murray ’33 and Catherine T. Murray ’34, M.Ed. ’51, in gratitude for their lifelong commitment to education.

Sisters Catherine Teresa  Murray ('34) and Mary Frances  Murray ('33) namesakes  of the Murray Center (photo: RIC Archives)

Sisters Catherine Teresa Murray (’34) and Mary Frances Murray (’33) namesakes of the Murray Center (photo: RIC Archives)

The Murray Center named for sisters, Mary F. Murray '33 and Catherine T. Murray '34 is a state of the art sports & training facility. (photo:www.ric.edu)

The Murray Center named for sisters, Mary F. Murray ’33 and Catherine T. Murray ’34 is a state of the art sports & training facility. (photo:www.ric.edu)

Native to Woonsocket, both sisters taught for many years in Rhode Island public schools. During their time at the Rhode Island College of Education they were highly active on campus. Mary was a member of the French and Music clubs, Alpha Rho Tau, and the RlCOLED yearbook staff, and Catherine’s roles included Literary Editor of the Anchor, Associate Editor of RICOLED, and 1934 Class Treasurer.  Both sisters also played women’s basketball. As a trustee of the Mur­ray Family Charitable Foundation their nephew, Terrance Murray, donated$750,000  to establish two  endowment funds at Rhode Island College, one to support athletics and student-athletes and the other to provide financial support for students in the Feinstein School of Educa­tion and Human Development and was instrumental in  naming the building in their honor.  “Their lives,” he said, “exemplified in the most significant ways the ideals of their profession. “[12]

John Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (2000)

Born in Pawtucket, alumnus John Nazarian began his fifty-eight year association with Rhode Island College in 1950 as a Rhode Is­land College of Education freshman and retired in 2008 as its eighth President.  Following graduation in 1954 he immediately joined the faculty of Rhode Island College as an instruc­tor of mathematics and physics. While contin­uing to teach, he earned master’s degrees from Brown University and the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from New York University. In 1970 President Kauffman named him as the first Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, and he went on to become Special Assistant to the President for Planning, Vice President for Ad­ministrative Services, and Acting President before being appointed President in  1990.[13] His many accomplishments were recognized throughout his life, with various fellowships, commendations, and awards. He was inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities’ Honorary Chair Award for Lifetime Achievement.

John Nazarian, RIC's 8th President (photo: RIC Archives)

John Nazarian, RIC’s 8th President (photo: RIC Archives)

Dr. Nazarian’s lifelong interest in the performing arts was celebrated  with the dedication of the John Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, dedi­cated in 2000.  Designed by William D. Warner, the architect  known for the Providence  Riverwalk, the build­ing  is a multi-purpose  facility  that houses the Music, Theatre, and Dance programs and provides space for the performing arts.[14] Warner’s design incorporates granite columns salvaged from the original Rhode Island College of Education  building that was demolished in 1997 when making way for the Providence Place Mall.  Light colored yellow brick pays homage to that  building  and  compliments the mid-century modern buildings on cam­pus.  Details, such as slate roof tiles, mahogany ticket booths, and red cedar interior paneling, stand in contrast to the streamlined modern design of the buildings surrounding it.[15]

The John Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (photo: RIC Archives)

The John Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (photo: RIC Archives)


  1. "Fred J. Donovan dies; was RIC Vice President." The Providence Sunday Journal. June 22, 1980. B·16. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections. Faculty File 11/1.
  2. Buildings and Named Places Binder.
  3. "Adams, James P." Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Brown University. http://www.brown.edu/Administration/News_Bureau/Databases/Encyclopedia/search.php?seriai=A0050. (accessed February 17, 2012).
  4. Vice President of Business Affairs, Box 2. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections.
  5. "Millman, Lester Joshua." The AlA Historical Dictionary of American Architects, 1970. http://communities.aia.org/sites/hdoaa/wiki/WikiPages/1970AmericanArchitects Directory.aspx. p. 626. (accessed March 29, 2012).
  6. Blair Associates. "Rhode Island College Campus Development Plan 1960-1980." 1959. p.12. Campus Map Guides. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections. 0.0/12.1.
  7. Ibid., p. 28
  8. 39
  9. ' Previous Library Building Projects.' State of Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services. http://http://www.olis.ri.gov/grants/construction/resources/prevproj.php (accessed March 29, 2012).
  10. "Student Union Dedicated Today at 3:00pm."  The Anchor, Vol. XL No. 16. Feb. 28, 1968. p.1. Rhode Island College. James P. Adams Library, Special Collections.  0.0/1
  11. ""Walsh,' Buildings and Named Places Binder.
  12. "Murray Center," Buildings and Named Places Binder.
  13. "A Tribute to John Nazarian." Rhode Island College. http://www.ric.edu/nazarianTribute/Bio.php (accessed June 29, 2012).
  14. "The Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts" http://www.ric.edu/nazariancenter/ (accessed June 29, 2012).
  15. "Growing by Design: RIC's New Arts Space Is Alive with Functionality." The Providence Sunday Journal., Sept. 10, 2000, p.10, Buildings and Named Places Binder.