RWU Approves Campus Location for New SECCM Labs

With Trustees' approval, RWU plans to break ground in spring on School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management Labs

Architectural rendering of School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management
An architectural rendering of the proposed new building and site for the School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management.
Edward Fitzpatrick

BRISTOL, R.I. – The University is pleased to announce that the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees has given final approval to construction of a laboratory building for the School of Engineering, Computing and Construction Management.

The University expects to break ground on the SECCM Labs project in spring 2018, pending the completion of permitting and financing.

Before making its decision, the Buildings and Grounds Committee considered the proposed building site as well as alternative locations on campus, taking into account objections raised during a September forum. After taking a tour of the sites and having a full discussion, the committee decided to locate the building on the proposed site, which is adjacent to the current engineering school building, the Mario J. Gabelli School of Business and the Feinstein College of Arts & Sciences.

The laboratory building project will represent a crucial addition to SECCM, which is experiencing significant growth while also facing mounting competition from a range of public and private colleges in the Northeast region.

“The new facilities will enhance our ability to deliver quality undergraduate laboratory learning, which is critical if we are to remain competitive,” SECCM Dean Robert Potter said. “Yes, small classes and the delivery of student-centered instruction are an asset, but that only goes so far. When students walk through and see the new facilities, we are going to become more competitive and continue to grow.”

After a broad and inclusive bidding process, RWU selected Shawmut Design and Construction as the construction manager.

“This is a building by the industry, for the industry,” President Donald J. Farish said. “We have Rhode Island’s only accredited construction management program, and the industry is partnering with us so their project becomes a living, learning laboratory experience – a hands-on experience for construction management.”

Shawmut’s Kyle Lloyd, who graduated from RWU in 1998 with a construction management degree, is the project executive.

“It’s incredible,” Lloyd said of the chance to work on a project at his alma mater. “When I went to school here, the program was very small, not widely known, but it has grown. And with this facility, I think it will be the premier construction management program in New England.”

Plans call for a three-story, 27,325-square-foot building that will contain a variety of exciting components. For example, it will include a two-story Construction Management High Bay, with an overhead crane; a Fluid Mechanics Laboratory; and a Building Information Modeling/Virtual Reality Laboratory, where two-dimensional design will meet the three-dimensional “real world.”

“Overall, the SECCM Labs will give them the ability to use modernized, state-of-the-art laboratories across all three programs (engineering, computing and construction management),” said Nathaniel Ginsburg, project architect for Providence-based Brewster Thornton Group Architects. “Spaces in this new building will be constructed to allow teaching in a very hands-on, interactive way that suits the learning style of students who are entering programs where they need to think independently and to take control of the project they are doing.”

Provost Andrew Workman said the project will help to alleviate space needs on the Bristol campus. Labs in the existing engineering building will be renovated for use as multi-purpose classrooms and general science laboratories, he said.