After Ranger Hall’s groundbreaking ceremony for its renovations this past November, there have been notable disparities between buildings for the arts versus STEM majors.
The University of Rhode Island’s communication studies, film/media, journalism, public relations and writing and rhetoric departments will get a renovated building with the completion of Ranger Hall. But other programs, such as chemistry and pharmacy, have received entirely new buildings. Paul DePace, director of the Office of Capital Projects, explained how these construction projects are “driven by the academic programs,” as well as the buildings’ infrastructure and maintenance needs.
In terms of funding for these projects, “there are several sources of funds that help [to] enable how the projects are done,” DePace said. In terms of the Chemistry building, there were 23 different types of funding that went into the construction, from donations to government bond money the state voted on.
The Ranger Hall renovation is a $6.8 million project, with proceed sources including government bond money and outside donations, most notable being the initial $1 million donation from Dick Harrington, founder of the Harrington School. Though these donations and bond money pale in comparison to those given to the Pharmacy and Chemistry programs, there are still high expectations for what they will provide for the students with the new technology and facilities.
Adam Roth, director of the Harrington School of Communications, said that the current renovations of Ranger Hall will include “everything and more than we had planned for this phase one of renovation.” He added how on top of the expected active learning classroom, social media innovation lab, lounge area and other changes, the renovation will also include more technology as well as a “digital innovation lab out of a space that was going to be somewhat devoid of technology.”
Walking into Ranger Hall now, one would see a completely gutted floor with beams set up outlining the different rooms on the first floor. The old, precarious elevator has been removed, and the elevator shaft has been extended to accommodate a new, larger elevator. Though to the average eye it may look like a mess of wires and wood, the renovation is still on track to being done by September and the start of classes.
“It will be a sprint to the end but we will open [on time],” DePace said. He added that since Ranger Hall was built around 1911 there have been “unforeseen conditions,” like the foundation not being what the construction team would like it to be for modern construction methods, and how the walls are framed differently than modern codes would allow.
But these “unforeseen conditions” have not deterred the construction. Brian Haskell, one of the construction leaders on the Ranger Hall renovation, has worked on many construction sites with older buildings and was ready to tackle anything that Ranger Hall presented.
“Our motto is if it was easy then anybody could do it…that’s the challenge of the job,” DePace said.
This construction work is only phase one of renovating all of Ranger Hall and does not include the entire building, mostly just the first floor and basement. Phase two will probably happen during the large projected renovation project that encompasses four buildings located on the Quadrangle. DePace estimated that this project will happen around the year 2020 but no definite date has been set.
Roth and the Harrington School have continued documenting Ranger Hall’s progress via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The building is still on track to be opened this September in time for fall 2016 semester classes, as well as having a ceremonial ribbon-cutting ceremony.