With the field of illustration morphing faster than ever,
RISD’s dynamic Illustration program has been evolving equally fast.
In fact, in recent years our vision has far outpaced our facilities,
which haven’t been upgraded in almost half a century.
Now that, too, is about to change.
It’s the type of synergy that prepares our graduates to find meaningful work in fields as diverse as journalism, publishing, game and interactive design, advertising, textiles and surface design, robotics and many more.
With close to 300 talented students, Illustration is now the largest undergraduate major at RISD. It’s a dynamic department with an exciting vision for the future—and yet it’s attempting to compensate for a building that’s stuck in the past.
For almost 35 years Illustration has been housed in a 19th-century chemical and dye plant last renovated in 1967. It’s a remarkable historic building that has long served the department well. But given the accelerating momentum fueling changes in the field, the Illustration Studies Building (or ISB, as it’s commonly called on campus) can no longer meet programmatic needs. The time has come to provide the department at the forefront of interdisciplinary learning at RISD with a facility that truly meets the demands of 21st-century pedagogy.
Illustration students need more space to collaborate, exchange ideas and move nimbly from drawing and painting to creating advanced digital media.
Working with an architecture alumnus and Illustration faculty, RISD has developed an elegant, cost-effective design solution that will allow for a total upgrade of the building while it remains fully occupied and functional during the academic year.
At the heart of the project is a 5,600-sf glass addition that will envelop a code-compliant stairway, elevator and restrooms. This will make the building fully accessible for the first time in its history, opening the door to those with disabilities. It will also allow each floor to be reconfigured to correct the complex warren of spaces now preventing programmatic progress.
In the end, the ISB renovation project will respect the building’s historic integrity while providing RISD’s largest undergraduate department with a fully accessible, fully functioning facility that suits current and anticipated requirements for its rapidly evolving curriculum.
To get there, RISD is working to raise $5.5 million to make the ISB renovation and expansion possible by 2015. Based on funds raised thus far, a groundbreaking ceremony for the initial phase of the project will take place on Thursday, May 30 from 2–4 pm. You can help ensure that the project proceeds on schedule by making your contribution now.
Site design by RISD Media, development by Greg Nemes
Homepage illustration: Chris Buzzellii BFA 95 / faculty member, The World Turned Upside Down
Watercolor renderings: Joe McKendry 94 IL / faculty member