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The Smith Center for the Arts is one of nine design or renovation
projects that have been led by the S/L/A/M Collaborative at PC.

​Architect Selected to Design Humanities Building

Providence, R.I.--Following a comprehensive vetting and selection process, S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM) has been chosen to design the Ruane Center for the Humanities—which will serve as Providence College’s signature academic building.

SLAM, an integrated architectural firm with offices in Atlanta, Boston, Glastonbury, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y., specializes in the programming, planning, and design of higher-education facilities.

The company has a longstanding history of collaboration with PC, having conducted nine design or renovation projects on campus. These include the design of St. Dominic Chapel and the Smith Center for the Arts and the renovation of portions of Harkins Hall and the Phillips Memorial Library.

SLAM was the unanimous recommendation of the seven-member Humanities Building Design Committee, which actively encouraged feedback from members of the College community following on-campus and video presentations from four bidding firms.

John Sweeney, PC senior vice president for finance and business/CFO, said the feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of SLAM’s vision for the building.

“SLAM best understood what we were looking for in this building and they best understood Providence College,” Sweeney said. “They were the clear choice.”

A commitment to the liberal arts

With construction beginning this spring, the Ruane Center is scheduled for completion in summer 2013. The building is named in recognition of the leadership gift made by Board of Trustees’ chair Michael A. Ruane ’70 and his wife, Elizabeth.

College leaders say the facility will symbolize PC’s commitment to the liberal arts, the humanities, and undergraduate education, including the revitalized Core Curriculum, which will begin being formally implemented in fall 2012.

The Ruane Center will serve as the home of the Development of Western Civilization (DWC) and Liberal Arts Honors programs. It also will house the departments of English and history and the School of Arts & Sciences. It will be constructed between the Phillips Memorial Library and the Albertus Magnus-Sowa-Hickey science complex on the main campus.

Dr. Hugh F. Lena, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said the Ruane Center will “signify the importance of those habits of mind that a liberal arts education embodies.”

“It epitomizes the value of interdisciplinary inquiry and study, and promotes conversation and contemplation that are pivotal to our Core Curriculum,” Lena said.

New DWC a chief focus

A main objective of the Ruane Center for the Humanities is to provide flexible instructional spaces, particularly for the Liberal Arts Honors Program and the revitalized DWC.

The centerpiece of the Core Curriculum, DWC remains a four-semester course taken in the freshman and sophomore years. Instead of counting as 20 credits, DWC is now a 16-credit course organized around seminar-style classes.

It will be taught by a team of three faculty members, covering the Ancient, Medieval, and Modern periods of Western Civilization in the first three semesters. This will be followed by a team-taught colloquium in the fourth semester focusing on a contemporary issue in the context of the Western tradition. To accomplish its goals, the seminar size has been reduced.

Representatives from SLAM were on campus January 20 to discuss initial designs for the building with faculty and staff. Dr. Vance G. Morgan, professor of philosophy and DWC director, said from the very beginning of the process, and through the initial design phase, that SLAM has been intent on addressing the needs of the DWC.

“We are seeking to build a new student and faculty culture around this new program and raise awareness of it on campus to the high level it deserves,” he said. “The new building is going to be a destination point on campus. This will be a great way to build community and for everyone to take pride in the DWC and the new Core.”

Dr. Sheila Adamus Liotta, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, echoed Morgan’s feelings about the building becoming an “academic destination” and emphasized it will become a hub of intellectual activity.

“There will be spaces outside of the classrooms, such as student study lounges and gathering areas, that will invite students to spend time in the building before or after class,” she said. “Hopefully, this will provide the opportunity for more faculty-student interaction where class discussions can carry over or a chance encounter can provoke spontaneous conversation.”


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