By the time classes get rolling again on Sept. 10 at the Rhode Island School of Design, students will find the Illustration Studies Building completed. Following a two-year project and $5.5 million in fundraising, the new and improved “ISB,” as undergraduates call it, is a three-floor facility in downtown Providence.

With nearly 300 undergrads, Illustration Studies is RISD’s largest major. The sector is meant to prepare students for myriad professions including journalism, publishing, game and Internet design, advertising, textiles, surface design and robotics. As the field of illustration has evolved and gained considerable interest as a significant job prospect, RISD ISB facility has not evolved to an equal degree, according to school officials. In fact, for nearly 35 years the ISB has been housed in a historic 19th century chemical dye plant that was last renovated in 1967. Unable to meet the program’s needs and eager to magnify RISD’s interdisciplinary practices, the school decided to upgrade. RISD alum Ed Wojcik handled the redesign with Shawmut Construction managing the project.

The new design includes a 5,600-square-foot glass addition that allows for classrooms with computers and dust-free surfaces for designers to work. An expanded gallery will allow for a robust program of public lectures by visiting artists and illustrators, along with a full schedule of rotating exhibitions featuring work by students and faculty. A more open reception area and foyer is meant to be a central hub for students and faculty, who will have offices on the main floor as well.

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Photo credit: Jo Sittenfeld/RISD