In fall 2000, RISD opened 60 studios for fine arts grad students in the adjacent Fletcher Building on Union Street. In fall 2001, it signed a long-term lease for a second building in the downtown arts district: the 48,000-sf Mason Building. Mason reopened as the RISD Center for Integrative Technologies in fall 2003, as a greenhouse for new ideas. The technology center, funded in part by a $2-million grant from the Small Business Administration, will house the Graduate Studies office, a new graduate program in digital media, the Interior Architecture Department, computer labs for Continuing Education courses in new media, the RISD/Bryant Center for Design and Business (CDB) and incubator space for some of the start-ups the CDB advises.
These two buildings (Mason and Fletcher) are part of RISD’s expansion into downtown. The former Hospital Trust building was be renovated for student housing and the newly expanded RISD library, and an ambitious new Student Center was completed on South Main Street in 2008.
From RIHPHC’s Downtown Survey, 1984:
Mason Building (1903): Stone, Carpenter and Wilson, architect. 6-story, brick and metal sheated, steel frame structure with late 20th-century storefront; 4-story, 3-bay articulation of upper stories with three Chicago windows on each story, corbel cornice; modern interiors. The structure was built by the John N. Mason Real Estate Company and used as commercial and office space. While more massive than neighboring structures to its east, the Mason building is similar in style to these commercial structures. It is harmonious in style and scale with the Fletcher building to its west and the Outlet Company across Weybosset street (since burned).
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