URI begins construction on new welcome center

KINGSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – The squat, concrete building that once housed the University of Rhode Island’s Welcome Center has been razed to make room for a new state-of-the-art facility.

University officials say the new center will be twelve times as large as the original at 11,000 square feet, and will cost $7.98 million to build. It will be financed by university funds, meaning that no tuition or fees will be used.

An artist’s rendering of the new welcome center.

As part of the construction, improvements will be made to the adjacent parking lot located at 1 Briar Lane.

“This facility will help welcome the 50,000-plus visitors who come to the Kingston Campus each year,” said Dean Libutti, vice provost for enrollment management. “This building will have outstanding physical features to welcome our guests and will tell the URI story of our past, present and future.”

Libutti continued that the new space will allow all visitors to the campus-prospective students, parents, alumni, and others-to have the best possible experience while on campus.

The facility will sit on the site of the original building, which opened in 1978. It is located at the entrance of campus on Upper College Road.

“When you come to the Welcome Center, you are going to know you are at URI,” said Erin Earle, assistant director of Admission for the campus visitor experience. “I am most excited about our history wall, which will depict important milestones at URI. We will be true to the University’s brand and also highlight our outstanding academic programs.”

The previous URI Welcome Center, built in 1978.

The new facility will streamline visitors’ experience by providing nearby parking and relocating tour guides from the Memorial Union. It will have space for informational presentations, three offices, three mini-conference rooms, and restrooms as well as an area for refreshments.

The design of the building will mirror that of other recent construction on campus, with large windows, peaked roofs, and stained cedar siding. The university plans to seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification on the project.

The architectural plans and design were drawn up in collaboration with DBVW Architects of Providence. The contractor is E.W. Burnham, Inc. of Warwick.

“I am excited about this project, which will result in a more accessible, visible home for visitors,” said Schane M. Tallardy, construction projects manager for URI. “This is a great location, and everyone on campus is going to be able to see the progress and get excited. When potential students and their families come to visit, they will get a wonderful introduction to the wide range of opportunities at URI.”

The project is set to be completed for the Fall 2018 semester.