RISD Teaching and Learning in Art & Design

December 21st, 2016

The TLAD program requirements included a space for masters candidates to work both independently and collaboratively with easy access to advising faculty, space for visiting lecturers, and seminar classes.

LLB architects were challenged by the dark, low ceilings, and warren-like existing office space. The successful renovation is rooted in a highly efficient, flexible layout made vibrant by maximizing perceptions of space and borrowed light. The entry/waiting area subtly brands the space and has inviting site lines to offices, conference room, and a collaborative learning space beyond. Right sized faculty and administration offices with glass storefront entries provide their occupants a sense of connection and privacy.

Strategically located gallery wall panels energize passage through the space and partition the multi-function conference room.

Oversized doors allow the conference room to be closed for private meetings and seminar classes or to be opened as an extension of the collaborative learning space.
The collaborative learning space is clear and open with modular lounge furniture, tables and chairs allowing for a broad range of configurations. The space is used for quiet study, small and large group projects, lectures and gatherings.

Furniture was replaced by the client with large custom made tables and stools on casters.

These changes transformed the ground level adapted commercial storefront space to a purpose built studio environment suitable, flexible, and comfortable for its many uses.

RISD Graphic Design Gallery

December 21st, 2016

RISD’s Graphic Design Department was seeking to develop a common, multi-use space that would allow the department to host various shows, events, and gatherings. The first floor of the building that houses the Graphic Design Department provided the location they were looking for. In developing a plan for the floor, the administrative offices were moved to locations that allowed for improved coordination and better temperature control. The gallery space occupies a central location.

The administrative offices make highly efficient use of space. They are partitioned at the back of the larger gallery by a bright yellow wall skewed to be orthagonal with the exterior and making the interior a bit more generous for the occupants. A frame less storefront system give these modest offices a strong connection to the outdoors and community connection.

The GD Gallery plan was reduced to the essentials and it was constructed with honest durable materials. It is designed for work and viewing, not to draw attention to the architecture. Where design elements are required, LLB steered clear of commercial solutions and instead, prepared the space to accept uniquely RISD constructions.

The Design Exchange Wins a 2015 Grow Smart RI Award

May 29th, 2015


Grow Smart RI is recognizing The Design Exchange with an “Outstanding Smart Growth Projects” award. The distinction was presented at the 2015 Smart Growth Awards at The Ballroom at the ProvidenceG on May 21.

“Each year, passionate, creative, and resourceful Rhode Islanders show us the way to tap our state’s full potential through projects, plans, and policies that play to Rhode Island’s strengths and generate enduring economic benefits—both statewide and in specific neighborhoods,” stated Grow Smart RI’s executive director Scott Wolf about the celebration, now in its fourth year.

The Design Exchange—a new collaborative work community in downtown Pawtucket—is located in a historic, four-story mill that was once part of the Rhode Island Cardboard Company complex. Constructed in 1880, the restored building is now occupied by eight creative businesses including graphic, industrial, and interior designers, photographers, textile designers, and engineers—vibrancy that has been drawing visitors and economic activity to Pawtucket’s arts district.

Lerner Ladds Bartels (LLB) Architects, which also operates out of The Design Exchange, purchased the building in 2010. “At the time, we had been searching for a building space to own for about ten years,” explained LLB Architects principal Kathleen Bartels, who indicated that the company’s previous space—a Victorian home in Eastside Providence—didn’t quite lend itself well to collaboration. “We were looking for an open floor plan.”

Bartels and her Partner Chris Ladds developed and renovated the historic mill, which previously sat vacant for over 30 years. “We spent a lot of time getting the economic model to work and ensuring that it was a smart investment,” stated Bartels, who added that state and historical tax credits significantly contributed to the project’s economic feasibility.

“There was a lot of collaboration to get the project financed,” she continued. “The building’s previous owner had secured and sold us the rights to the tax credits, which we used for rehab work. We also worked with Pawtucket Business Development Corporation and Bank RI to bridge the remaining gap in funding.”

The Design Exchange, a live/work community, was a vision that was dreamt by the building’s previous owner, according to Bartels. “We wanted businesses with artistic and creative focuses.”

Bartels, a Coventry native, mentioned that The Design Exchange shares a similar mission and philosophy with Grow Smart RI. “While it is challenging, it is very rewarding to fix the broken environment and transform communities into great places to live and work.” She also indicates that smart growth is a concept that is close to the architectural philosophy of her firm. “It’s all about repurposing, adaptive reuse, and being economical with the land and our historic buildings.”

Established in 1998, Grow Smart RI has become the leading advocate for sustainable economic growth, revitalization, and improved quality of place in the state’s urban, suburban, and rural communities.

“It’s very important to take a look at the building stock in Rhode Island,” added Bartels. “Rhode Island’s buildings are some of our state’s most unique and precious assets, and we need to preserve and capitalize on these strengths as much as possible.”

The Design Exchange’s nomination to receive the recognition was submitted by the Pawtucket Foundation, recipient of this year’s “Outstanding Smart Growth Leaders” award.

View Grow Smart RI’s celebration of the Design Exchange here.