Don’t just shrug off horrid hotel plan

Proposed hotel on Fountain Street, in downtown Providence. (Journal archives)

Proposed hotel on Fountain Street, in downtown Providence. (Journal archives)

What’s that word these days that articulates a shrug of the shoulders?


The day after Memorial Day, The Journal reported a proposed 170-room “premium-branded upscale extended-stay” hotel for Fountain Street, in downtown Providence. To be razed was the Fogarty Building, a former welfare office long vacant and so ugly that its architectural style is called Brutalist, but barely worse than the proposed hotel.


The design of the hotel shows off its suburban airport access-road schlock with such evident pride that readers could not possibly hold out hope that its tedium might be blamed on the ineptitude of CAD (computer-assisted design) at illustrating architectural detail.


The plan calls not just for a hotel restaurant but for street-level retail, which usually makes urbanists like me mist up — especially if it is to be next to The Journal. Lunch, anyone?


Any construction project in Rhode “Been Down So Long It Feels Like Up” Island should have us all leaping out of our lethargy and dancing for joy. All the more as it promises to deliver us from a building only the architect’s mother could love. So why do I feel so . . . meh?

To read the rest of this column, please visit The Providence Journal.

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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2 Responses to Don’t just shrug off horrid hotel plan

  1. Eric, you are correct as usual, and I agree, too, that the Fogarty is preferable to this hotel proposal. Let the Procacciantis offer something worth tearing down the Fogarty for, and I’ll back them all the way. But we’ve been here before: check out my post just following the column on my blog.


  2. Eric Inman Daum, AIA says:

    “So why do I feel so . . . meh?”

    Because it is bad urbanism.
    Because it is an ugly set of forms
    Because it is no better than it’s predecessor on the site. (Which wasn’t as bad, in my opinion, as you think it was, though I always thought it looked like the bottom three floors of a tower that was never completed.)
    Because it is a missed opportunity.
    Because building is expensive and building badly is wasteful.
    Because it does nothing to knit the city back together.
    Because it looks like a cheap business hotel across from a strip mall on Airport Road.

    Commodity, firmness and delight, David. It hits maybe the first of these. Firmness is up for debate, Delight? Not a chance.


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