Construction Under Way on New Science & Academic Bldg. at JWU

Providence, RI – A new 71,000sf academic and science building on the Providence campus of Johnson & Wales University (JWU) Johnson & Wales University new classroom and laboratory building combines teaching, laboratory, social, and teaming spaces and ARC_Johnson & Wales University - New Classroom and Laboratory Building - Exteriorexpands the university’s longtime commitment to interdisciplinary learning.

The executive architect is Edward Rowse Architects of Providence. ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge is the design architect. The project is expected to open this summer. It will house the School of Engineering & Design, a new biology program, social and teaming spaces, and a street-level Innovation Lab.

This will be the first new facility built on reclaimed land made available by the relocation of a 1950s-era interstate highway which split the city’s historic Jewelry District into two unconnected neighborhoods. The relocation of I-195 opens up approximately 40 acres between downtown Providence and the Jewelry District. Development plans for the district include technology, life sciences, and academic facilities. JWU is serving as a pioneer in anchoring a newly reknit neighborhood. The building is designed to support the evolving urban street grid, with cafés, lobby event space, and learning activities visible from the street.

JWU Chancellor John J. Bowen called the new academic building an affirmation of the university’s commitment to providing the best education possible for students from across the globe. “Today’s world demands that we not only provide the most technologically advanced learning environment, but one that also allows for the integration of disciplines, the freedom to create and innovate, and the kinds of collaborations that are the norm in virtually every industry,” he said.

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Interior of new Johnson & Wales building

Flexibility as a Guiding Principle

The building design creates a central hub for students and faculty to meet, collaborate, and innovate. According to ARC’s project manager, Mark Dolny, AIA, LEED AP, a guiding principle for the design team was flexibility. “The university vision is to expand learning opportunities in academic science, and provide highly flexible spaces that can be used for multiple purposes to meet the changing needs and priorities,” he said. “During the programming phase, our team explored the boundaries of flexibility and shared resources within the teaching environment. We all wanted the design to respond to a changing and growing program over time.”

One solution is classroom and team learning spaces built to allow for easy repurposing and reconfiguration, encouraging alternative ways for instructors to interact with students. The classrooms are designed at a larger scale to promote teaming and provide ample break-out space. Labs include movable casework, open ceilings, and accessible ductwork with options for adaptable HVAC containment. Another flexibility solution is the designed capability to add more labs without significant rework. Nearly every room can be converted to lab space as science programs grow and requirements change.

A variety of collaboration spaces throughout the building, including those sandwiched in around faculty offices, support team projects and group study. Pin-up areas, movable furniture, and erasable whiteboard walls offer creative options for students from all academic majors to meet and learn together.

Science on Display

Facing the street, and featuring wide windows with display areas for pedestrians, is an active Engineering Innovation Lab. This makerspace, in use day and night, will offer 3D printers, laser cutters, assembly tools, and computer workstations. The large first-floor lobby will serve as a gallery to showcase project work built in the Innovation Lab. The lobby is also designed to accommodate events and social gatherings including lectures, conferences, and symposiums.

Laboratory spaces on the upper floors range from materials testing and research, computer science and CAD, and robotics to labs that support physics, chemistry, and biology.

Sustainability in Practice

The design by ARC will include several sustainable elements and is tracking for LEED certification. Daylighting throughout the building will allow lights to be kept off for much of the day. Daylight sensors, LED lighting, and high-efficiency HVAC systems will provide significant energy savings.

The project’s executive architect is Edward Rowse Architects of Providence while ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge of Cambridge is the design architect.

The project is expected to open this summer.



Design Architect:   ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge
Executive Architect: Edward Rowse Architects
Construction manager: Dimeo Construction Company
Consultant Team
Structural: Odeh Engineering
Civil: Woodward & Curran, Inc
Cost estimating: Vermeulens
Geotechnical: GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc.
Code: R.W. Sullivan