North Hall Fact Sheet

September 17, 2019

Project Description
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.

Opening Celebration
Saturday, October 12, 2019, 11 am–12 pm, tours until 2 pm
(project completed August 2019)

60 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island USA


Materials. 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

Energy. 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

Water. 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

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

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. Find more information at

To download high-resolution imagery of this project, please visit: Photography credits: John Horner

For other press requests, please contact: Jaime Marland – 401.427.6954 –