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Rhode Island School of Design North Hall / NADAAA

Rhode Island School of Design North Hall / NADAAA

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. 

Ph: John Horner 

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%.

Light gray 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. 

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. 

Ph: John Horner 


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. 

All LED lights with reduced interior lighting power of 11,060 watts compared to 30,643 allowable. 

Sensors in common rooms, corridors, laundry room, bathrooms, paint booth, etc. turn off or turn down lights when the space is unoccupied. 

Efficient HVAC equipment, high-efficiency, natural gas, condensing domestic hot water heaters are 95% efficient and low-flow showers and faucets use 53% less hot water and save heating energy.  


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 and flush valves, use 1.28 gallons per flush compared to the 1.6 gallons per flush allowed by code. 

Low-flow showerheads use 1.5 gallons per minute compared to 2.5 gallons per minute allowed by code. 

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. 

Ph: John Horner

Specific occupant wellness measures include

Each room has a dedicated thermostat and heat pump to allow for individual thermal comfort control. 

Heat recovery (3-pipe), variable refrigerant flow heat pumps allow heating or cooling in each room throughout the year. 

Each room has operable windows to allow students to further control their thermal comfort. 

Cross-laminated timber slabs are topped with an acoustic mat and self-leveling gypsum concrete that helps reduce noise from above. 

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. 

High-volume exhaust and dedicated makeup air unit helps keep booth users from being exposed to paint fumes and harmful solvents. 

Every floor has access to chilled, filtered water via drinking fountains and bottle fillers. 

Low-emitting paints used throughout the building to reduce volatile organic chemical off-gassing. 

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 

DATE: 2019 / LOCATION: 60 Waterman Street, Providence, Rhode Island, United State / AREA: 40,790 gsf (Net Square Footage) / PROGRAM: student housing,  / STATUS: built / DESIGN: NADAAA / PRINCIPALS: Nader Tehrani (RISD BFA 85/BArch 86), Katherine Faulkner, Arthur Chang / DESIGN TEAM: Matthew Waxman, Gretchen Neeley, Nathan Vice, Richard Lee, Aaron Weller / RISD FACILITIES CAMPUS COORDINATOR: Annie Newman, director, Planning, Design & Construction / CONSTRUCTION MANAGER:  Shawmut Design and Construction / CONSTRUCTION: John Strafach & Sons (Concrete), Ocean Steel (Steel), Nordic Structures (Cross Laminated Timbers), HB Welding (Steel and CLT Erection), Worcester Air (Sheet Metal Ductwork), Chandler Architectural (Exterior Façade), Sweeney Drywall (Drywall), Grande Masonry (Masonry) / CONSULTANTS: Landworks Studio (Landscape), Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (Civil), Odeh Engineers (Structure), Environmental Systems Inc. (Mechanical), Reilly Electrical Contractors (RELCO) (Electrical), Arden Engineering Constructors (Plumbing), Jensen Hughes (Code), Kalin Associates Inc. (Spec Writer), Colliers International (Owners Project Manager), DiGregorio (Site Development), SyNet Inc. (AV/IT/Security), AAA Sprinkler (Fire Protection), GZA (Geotechnical), Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (Envelope Consultant), Andelman & Lelek Engineering (Energy Modeler), Acentech (Acoustic Consultant) / PHOTOS: John Horner 

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