Providence College Providence, RI
Providence College built the Ruane Center not simply to house its distinctive curriculum in the Development of Western Civilization, but also to signal its commitment to the liberal arts in an era when the focus of higher education has shifted to training in marketable skills. Speaking at the Ruane Center’s dedication, historian David McCullough said “I feel to the depths of my being that this emblematic new building is not only a step in the right direction for Providence College, but for our country.” With the college’s lofty goal in mind, the design combines Classical order in plan, Gothic romance in elevations and details, and Modern audio-visual technology. The Ruane Center also incorporates a specially-commissioned bronze statue of St. Thomas Aquinas in an intimate courtyard and integral architectural sculpture at the entrances and elsewhere on the facades.
Standing between a Collegiate Gothic science building and a Brutalist library, the Ruane Center was inevitably drawn into the “Battle of the Styles”. Carefully chosen exterior materials – red waterstruck brick walls and architectural precast trim – harmonized with both neighbors. By matching the height of the library and using horizontal precast banding on the brick facades, the architects were able to achieve détente between the warring styles while allowing each building to maintain its esthetic integrity. (Sullivan Buckingham Architects and The S/L/A/M Collaborative-2013)