Zitong Zhou

Zitong Zhou

New York, NY, US


Complex Identity Concentrating Program to Increase Efficiency on College Campuses

A family, a city or even a country cannot exist without a center. The most significant difference between central and non-central regions of human habitation is density. On the Rhode Island School of Design campus, the location of programming is not consciously designed and many buildings that house interrelated program are organize randomly. Over time, buildings have been added to the overall campus without regard for whether they contribute to a cohesive whole. 

Is it reasonable to arrange education and exhibition space in buildings that are far from the center of RISD, while the school owns a centrally located building large enough to house all departments?

The core of the RISD campus is in Providence on College Hill, between Waterman Street and College Street, between Benefit Street and the Woonasquatucket River. The largest building in RISD’s portfolio lies across the river at 15 Westminster, and as a part of the core campus of RISD, it includes the Fleet Library, Archives, Material Library, Portfolio Cafe and most importantly a majority of the space within 15 Westminster is dedicated to student residences. Dorms are a necessary and important space for students’ daily life but less essential to students academic life. Generally, students spend more time in studios than in their places of residence.

It is necessary to reinforce and improve the central identity of RISD, by reorganizing and rebuilding a more efficient program layout on campus. From a location perspective, 15 Westminster is a part of the core campus and the core campus should serve all students of RISD, but it fails in this goal. Education space should be prioritized, as it is the most important to students’ academic life. By centralizing education and gallery space from outlying buildings to 15 Westminster, students will share and come in contact with each other and work in harmony. A complex building for all departments means that students have more opportunities to communicate with each other. It will enhance the cross-disciplinary work imperceptibly. There is no effective cross-disciplinary work unless students can see what their colleagues are working on. The openness of the building and relationship between departments will allow students broader exposure to ideas, techniques and resources of different disciplines.

The new 15 Westminster will be transformed into a huge open shared space, open exhibition space and open studio space for all departments. It will  be separated into four stores volumes, with three levels in each volume. The middle layer will act as a shared space including a wood shop, computer lab, printing room, exhibition space, public classroom, individual study room, public meeting room and kitchen space for the stories above and below. Theses stories on either side of the shared space act as  working space. Many of these work spaces are joined by ramps , giving students the opportunity to see the students from other departments directly in their working space. 15 West will become a complex, multicultural, cross-disciplinary and open building as the centerpiece of the core RISD campus.

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Status: School Project
Location: 15 Westminster st, Providence, RI