Rhode Island Blood Center
Vision 3 Architects | vision3architects.com
This project began several years ago as a feasibility study to determine how large an addition Rhode Island Blood Center could put on their existing building, as they were growing, particularly their laboratory operations. Then, new property was aquired and perfectly sized to accommodate a new 20-25,000 s.f. new building, all on one floor, and parking to support it. This allowed them to move all of their regulated laboratory operations, with room for future growth, into this new building, where they would no longer need to deal with the challenges of an out of date HVAC system. The space in the existing building vacated by the labs now gives Rhode Island Blood Center room to expand office and support spaces. The new building will be connected to the existing with a connecting corridor, so they still will have direct communication between both parts of their operation. One unique feature of the building is a central clerestory window designed to bring natural light into the interior work areas of the building, which otherwise would be cut off from the outside world.
One big challenge was that there were several existing buildings on the site, none of which were suitable for adaptive reuse for a laboratory, and two of which were deemed of moderate historic significance by the City of Providence (one of those had been badly damaged by fire). Because of the project being situated in the historic district, the design of the new building needed to complement the surrounding buildings in the district, with design approvals being required by both the Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission. The site was also a brownfield, with contaminated soils requiring the site to be “capped”, and the design needed to minimize the amount of soil leaving the site.
The new laboratory, which will test all blood donations for the Rhode Island Blood Center and many hospitals in Massachusetts, is the only one of its kind in New England.