John Mason Building

also known as RISD’s Center for Integrative Technologies

A turn-of-the-century 6-story downtown commercial building that is now part of the RISD campus

About this Property

#Redevelopment

In the fall of 2000, RISD opened 60 studios for fine arts grad students in the adjacent [Fletcher Building] on Union and Weybosset Streets. In the fall of 2001, it signed a long-term lease for a second building in the downtown arts district: the 48,000-sf John Mason Building.

Kennedy & Violich Architects redesigned the interior spaces and local contractors Site Specific handled the buildout. The renovation included a complete gut of interior walls on three levels of the 6-story building to accommodate new classrooms and studio space. All mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were reworked and new exhaust was installed for state-of-the-art laser cutters and woodworking machines.

The Mason building 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, houses the Graduate Studies office, a 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.

#Current Events

The Center for Integrative Technology provides maker resources and studio space for RISD students, with a focus on digital media, graphic design, art education, and textiles. On the ground floor is a gallery that often activates the window spaces and sometimes has openings available to the public.

#History

From RIHPHC’s Survey of Downtown Providence, 1984

Mason Building (1903) — Stone, Carpenter and Wilson, architect. 6-story, brick and metal sheeted, 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).