School of Design North Hall, Providence Campus Building, RI Development, CLT American Architecture Images

North Hall in Rhode Island

New School of Design Residence on Rhode Island design by NADAAA, USA

Updated Mar 4 2020 + Oct 8, 2019

Architect: NADAAA

Location: 60 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Rhode Island School of Design Opens First Newly Constructed Residence Hall in 34 Years

North Hall Rhode Island

Updated photos by John Horner

North Hall, Rhode Island School of Design

The first cross-laminated timber-steel hybrid residence hall in New England, North Hall is an innovative model for reducing energy use, limiting environmental impact and providing a customized space designed to help students thrive.

North Hall Rhode Island

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) celebrates the opening of North Hall, the college’s first newly constructed residential facility to open in 34 years. The first cross-laminated timber (CLT)-steel hybrid residence hall in New England, the building is an innovative model for reducing energy use and limiting environmental impact while providing a customized space designed to allow students to thrive.

North Hall Rhode Island

An opening celebration will take place on Saturday, October 12, 2019 from 11 am–12 pm (with tours running until 2pm) during RISD Weekend, an annual three-day gathering that brings alumni and parents to campus for a variety of events and programming.

Rhode Island building design by NADAAA

North Hall was designed by award-winning architect and RISD Architecture alumnus Nader Tehrani (RISD 86) in collaboration with fellow principals Katherine Faulkner and Arthur Chang and their Boston-based firm NADAAA. Thanks to thoughtful input from the campus community, NADAAA’s design features common spaces for socializing, making, reflecting and creative expression, tailored to meet the varied needs of today’s art and design students.

The 40,790-square-foot structure houses 148 first-year students on six floors, featuring amenities such as living spaces that facilitate interaction through breakout rooms, workrooms, social lounges, a shared kitchen and studio and gallery spaces, as well as private retreats, a spray booth and bike storage. Shawmut Design and Construction managed the project.

North Hall Rhode Island design by NADAAA

“We are excited to open a new residence hall that so fully supports RISD’s unique form of education, meeting the needs of today’s students—a generation unlike any before them,” notes President Rosanne Somerson. “Our broader institutional vision—as set forth in RISD’s new strategic plan—commits to contributing to a sustainable planet and to ensuring student health and wellness. This new residence hall demonstrates our collective dedication to both priorities.

I thank everyone who committed so much time and effort to planning, designing and realizing this extraordinary building. I am proud of the role that alumni, students and faculty played in the project’s development and final outcome. We look forward to seeing how this new space will foster student growth for years to come.”

North Hall RI

“It is a distinct honor to design a building for an institution I hold so dear, but even more so since I have lived on the same campus myself,” said NADAAA principal designer Nader Tehrani (RISD 86). “The students who will occupy these buildings are some of the most talented and intellectually adept artists and designers out there.

For them, I hope that North Hall will not only be a place of residence, but also a didactic edifice that can be read, interpreted, interrogated and even overturned. In other words, I hope it becomes not only a place of comfort and respite, but also a place that challenges and provokes.”

Providence Campus Building, RI

The state-of-the-art project—featuring innovative construction methods pairing the steel frame with CLT slabs, along with a high-performance envelope comprised of brick and fiber cement panel rainscreen skin—engaged an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) method to collaboratively fuse the talents of the many teams involved.

North Hall RI

Highlights in key areas include:

• Materials
• Energy
• Water
• Student wellness

North Hall RI North Hall RI

“It’s been an extremely exciting process partnering with RISD and NADAAA on this remarkable residence hall,” said Ron Simoneau, vice president at Shawmut. “Cut into the fabric of the RISD campus, and with Shawmut’s IPD and Lean construction principles at the center of the construction and design teams’ approach, this project will serve as a long-standing reminder of collaboration, design and opportunity within the RISD community.”

In devising the design for North Hall, NADAAA studied the history and function of RISD’s “Quad block” of buildings—an area that includes multiple housing structures, a dining facility and a fitness center. Part of a larger multiyear Quad enhancement project, completion of North Hall allows for continued sequential renovations.

Developed in the 1950s, RISD’s core campus was designed by local architects Cull, Robinson and Green with nationally known architect Pietro Belluschi as a consultant within an urban composition of three buildings: Nickerson Hall, Homer Hall and the refectory (now known as The Met dining hall) coming together around a series of terraces with expansive views of downtown Providence.

These remained intact for several decades, until the forces of expansion introduced East Hall and South Hall on the southern side of the original dormitories, compromising the public nature of their collective spaces. The Quad enhancement project sets out to reclaim those public spaces while making the buildings accessible to all students. Renovations to Nickerson are currently underway, with targeted completion in May 2020. Homer renovations will follow, beginning in summer 2020 through summer 2021.

Providence Campus Building RI

An important goal of the overall project was to model a process of RISD working with faculty and alumni designers to demonstrate RISD’s commitment to contemporary design in both the architecture and the furniture of the new residence hall. In addition to Tehrani’s overall design of the structure, Schiller Family Endowed Chair in Furniture Design John Dunnigan (RISD 80) and Furniture Design Professor and Department Head Lothar Windels (RISD 96) designed the Rhye dorm furniture collection, making its debut in North Hall.

In addition to its affordability, simple functionality and durable construction methods using sustainable materials are the key hallmarks of this collection, which includes beds, desks, chairs, drawer chests and tables.

North Hall RI

Only two materials were used: solid European beech (PEFC certified, the European equivalent to FSC certification) and bamboo plywood, a fast growing, carbon neutral natural resource. In addition, lighting by Rich Brilliant Willing, founded by Furniture Design alumni Theo Richardson (RISD 06), Charles Brill (RISD 06) and Alexander Williams (RISD 06), is featured in the 5th-floor common room.

The trio generously donated the Palindrome 8 chandelier, a sculptural centerpiece with a modular composition of tubular steel arms; RBW’s Queue lighting, a linear LED pendant system, is also installed throughout the common room.

Special thanks to all project consultants and trade partners: Landworks Studio, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., Odeh Engineers, Environmental Systems Inc., Reilly Electrical Contractors (RELCO), Arden Engineering Constructors, Jensen Hughes, Kalin Associates Inc., Colliers International, DiGregorio, SyNet Inc., Encore, GZA, John Strafach & Sons, Ocean Steel, HB Welding, Worcester Air, Chandler Architectural, Sweeney Drywall, Grande Masonry, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Andelman & Lelek Engineering and Acentech.

North Hall RI

About Rhode Island School of Design RISD’s mission, through its college and museum, is to educate students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation.

The college’s strategic plan NEXT: RISD 2020-2027 sets an ambitious vision for educating students for the future and bringing creative practices to bear on the creation of just societies, a sustainable planet and new ways of making and knowing.

RISD’s immersive model of art and design education, which emphasizes critical making through studio-based learning and robust study in the liberal arts, prepares students to intervene in the critical challenges of our time. Working with exceptional faculty and in extraordinary specialized facilities, 2,500 students from 69 countries engage in 42 full-time bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

RISD’s 30,000 alumni worldwide testify to the impact of this model of education, exemplifying the vital role artists and designers play in today’s society. Founded in 1877, RISD (pronounced “RIZ-dee”) and the RISD Museum help make Providence, RI among the most culturally active and creative cities in the region.

North Hall RI

North Hall, Rhode Island – Building Information

Design Architect: NADAAA, Boston, MA
Location: 60 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island USA


The new residence hall makes use of environmentally friendly and healthy materials. Most significantly, an integrated project delivery (IPD) methodology was used to select a CLT-steel structural system, an innovative hybrid of mass timber and steel structural design.

Specific sustainable materials selected include:

• Mass timber slabs: cross-laminated timber (CLT) wood decks replace energy-intensive concrete and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 20%
• Cool roof membrane: light gray colored, Sika Sarnafil, EnergySmart roof membrane meets LEED, Green Globes and California’s Title 24 criteria for cool roofs, which help reduce heat island effects
• Custom CLT millwork: field-cut CLT slab pieces used to create custom counters and furniture
• Exposed ceilings: by incorporating exposed ceilings in dorm rooms, common areas and corridors, the project avoids dropped ceilings and significantly reduces embodied energy
• Rhye furniture collection: used only two sustainable materials – solid European beech (PEFC certified) and bamboo plywood, a fast growing, carbon neutral natural resource


Designed to use approximately 27% less energy than a typical code-compliant building, the new residence hall will consume 72,794 kWh/year less in electricity and 43,000 therms/year less in natural gas than a more traditional structure of its size, which will save RISD about $16,400 annually. This will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 74.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, which is similar to removing 16 cars from the road or adding 87 acres of forest.

Specific energy efficiency measures include:

• Enhanced wall insulation: U-factor of walls of 0.051 compared to 0.064 allowable
• Reduced lighting energy: all LED lights with reduced interior lighting power of 11,060 watts compared to 30,643 allowable
• Lighting occupancy sensors: sensors in common rooms, corridors, laundry room, bathrooms, paint booth, etc. to turn off or turn down lights when the space is unoccupied
• Efficient HVAC equipment: energy recovery ventilators that recoup energy from the exhaust to pre-condition outdoor air (up to 80% efficiency) with high-efficiency heating and cooling of ventilation air; heat recovery, variable refrigerant flow heat pumps to provide heating and cooling to each room
• Condensing water heaters: high-efficiency, natural gas, condensing domestic hot water heaters are 95% efficient
• Low-flow showers and faucets: low-flow showers and faucets use 53% less hot water and save heating energy


The new residence hall will save more than 3,200 gallons per day compared to other code-compliant buildings housing a similar number of people. This is a reduction of 46% and represents more than 700,000 gallons of water saved per year, which is more than in an Olympic-sized swimming pool or more than 5.6 million 16-ounce water bottles.

Specific water efficiency measures include:

• Low-flow toilets: low-flow Kohler toilets and Sloan flush valves, both of which are EPA WaterSense listed, use 1.28 gallons per flush compared to the 1.6 gallons per flush allowed by code
• Low-flow showers: Symmons low-flow showerheads use 1.5 gallons per minute compared to 2.5 gallons per minute allowed by code
• Low-flow faucets: Chicago Faucet low-flow aerators on bathroom faucets use 0.5 gallons per minute compared to the 2.2 gallons per minute allowed by code

Student wellness

The new residence hall will give students control over their thermal comfort and lighting and incorporates a variety of comfortable spaces for work and relaxation. The design also promotes health, comfort and productivity among residents.

Specific occupant wellness measures include:

•Individual room thermal zones: Each room has a dedicated thermostat and heat pump to allow for individual thermal comfort control
•Year-round heating and cooling: heat recovery (3-pipe), variable refrigerant flow heat pumps allow heating or cooling in each room throughout the year
•Operable windows: each room has operable windows to allow students to further control their thermal comfort
•Abundant daylight: tall windows and high ceilings bring in abundant natural daylight
•Acoustic separation: cross-laminated timber slabs are topped with an acoustic mat and self-leveling gypsum concrete that helps reduce noise from above
•Dedicated outdoor air system: energy recovery ventilators provide mechanical ventilation to each room with 100% outside air and no recirculation of exhaust air, which helps reduce transmission of germs and other contaminants
•Paint booth: high-volume exhaust and dedicated makeup air unit helps keep booth users from being exposed to paint fumes and harmful solvents
•Drinking fountains and bottle fillers: every floor has access to chilled, filtered water via drinking fountains and bottle fillers
•Biophilic design: natural wood in the ceilings, green roofs and abundant views to the outside connect students to nature
•Low-emitting paints: Sherwin-Williams ProMar Zero VOC paints used throughout the building to reduce volatile organic chemical off-gassing
•Bicycle storage: secure, interior bicycle storage encourages students to use alternative transportation

North Hall RI

Construction Systems: concrete structure at first level, above the structure is steel columns with CLT floors, skins systems include brick rainscreen, fiber cement panels in rainscreen system, curtain wall

Net Square Footage: 40,790 gsf
Total Project Cost: $25 million
Design Architect: NADAAA, Boston, MA
principals: Nader Tehrani (RISD BFA 85/BArch 86), Katherine Faulkner, Arthur Chang
design team: Matthew Waxman, Gretchen Neeley, Nathan Vice, Richard Lee, Aaron Weller

Construction Manager: Shawmut Design and Construction
RISD Facilities Campus Coordinator: Annie Newman, director, Planning, Design & Construction
Landscape: Landworks Studio
Civil: Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB)
Structure: Odeh Engineers
Mechanical: Environmental Systems Inc.
Electrical: Reilly Electrical Contractors (RELCO)
Plumbing: Arden Engineering Constructors
Code: Jensen Hughes
Spec Writer: Kalin Associates Inc.
Owners Project Manager: Colliers International
Site Development: DiGregorio
AV/IT/Security: SyNet Inc.
Fire Protection: AAA Sprinkler
Geotechnical: GZA

Concrete: John Strafach & Sons
Steel: Ocean Steel
Cross Laminated Timbers: Nordic Structures
Steel and CLT Erection: HB Welding
Sheet Metal Ductwork: Worcester Air
Exterior Facade: Chandler Architectural
Drywall: Sweeney Drywall
Masonry: Grande Masonry
Envelope Consultant: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
Energy Modeler: Andelman & Lelek Engineering
Acoustic Consultant: Acentech
Project Spokespeople
Rosanne Somerson, president, RISD
Nader Tehrani, principal, NADAAA
Jack Silva, vice president, RISD Campus Services
Ron Simoneau, vice president, Shawmut Design and Construction

North Hall RI

Photography: John Horner

North Hall in Rhode Island images / information received 081019 from NADAAA

Location: 60 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

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