Developer Jason Fane has cut costs by removing the pizzazz from his proposed tower design. Without the sinuous curves, it looks less ridiculous but would not fit into the Jewelry District any better, if built, than before its redesign – its third redesign. It has progressed from three bland towers in 2016 to one in 2018, and then from bland to sexy – as if architecture could aspire to ape Marilyn Monroe.
No, it cannot be done.
Silly, not sexy.
Even if it could be done, it would still stick out like a sore thumb.
Arguably (as I actually argued in a 2018 post), that design was a copycat. Fane tower architects IBI Group, of Toronto, copied an even more curvaceous design, also in Toronto, for a pair of buildings called the Absolute Towers, by MAD Architects. The Fane tower may indeed be less curvaceous than Absolute Towers, but it one ups MAD’s towers, in that the latter seem designed to portray two towers in a state of precoital arousal, whereas the Fane tower seems to portray two towers amid coitus itself. (Really? Click to see.)
Even without the histrionics, this is not exactly what is wanted for a historic city like Providence. And the new design is still way too tall – in spite of a Rhode Island Supreme Court ruling in 2020, by any logic it still does not obey the city’s comprehensive plan (but who cares about logic these days). The building violates the plan’s 100-foot height mandate by an astronomical 500 percent! Most public opponents regretted its height, but its unsympathetic design was widely considered just as obnoxious, however sexy.
The new design, described in a GoLocalProv.com article, basically takes the boring side of the building and carries it all the way around, replacing the sexy façade in which Fane took so much pride, so much so that he even dared to mock the city’s historic character as “cutesy.” Fane has also added residential floors by subtracting a couple of parking floors in the base of the tower. The old design’s moderne-style, stripped fenestration has been jettisoned in favor of what appear to be concrete slabs separating the floors. Its balconies have been substantially reduced in number and size.
The Fane team issued a press release:
After over a year of diligent redesign, the Fane Organization has made changes to The Fane Tower façade design and submitted to the I-195 Commission a package of revised conceptual design drawings for Design Review. The revised exterior concept shows smooth harmonious curvilinear lines and rounded corners that are unmatched in Providence. Recognizing local climate, the number and size of balconies has been reduced.
Note that the building is apparently now called “The Fane Tower.” I thought that was just my reporter’s shorthand. Whatever happened to the so-called “Hope Point Tower”?
None of these changes, if they reduce costs as desired, are to be desired. Better a ridiculous building that resides on a blueprint gathering dust on a shelf than a practical building that is affordable to the developer and actually rises up to poke out our eye. We have already added enough ugly to the heritage of Providence.