Here is a piece about Kennedy Plaza by Brandon Klayko for archpaper.com. Donald Powers, founder of Union Studio Architects and designer of the very nice master plan, above, for Kennedy Plaza proposed in 2013, was clearly the author’s primary source for the piece. Powers demonstrated his credentials as an urbanist in his master plan but earns his credentials as a diplomatist with his remarks in Klayco’s article:
“He hopes the city can continue with the larger plan,” writes Klayko, “without losing its ambitious goals. ‘What has frustrated some is the new design seems to have been done independently of what else has been going on,’ said Powers.”
What Powers refers to is that half of Kennedy Plaza has been demolished but the “new design” now under construction is modernist, in contrast with both the terminal building that remains, which is traditional, and his own firm’s traditional master plan – which I’ve referred to as having been “frog-marched” out of the picture.
This is a delicate project that must move forward in phases, and in an environment of considerable public skepticism. But it’s hard to imagine that happening if its proponents, who score poorly as diplomats, cannot agree on something as important as the general direction its architecture will take.
I hope Powers’s master plan is still part of Kennedy Plaza’s official future. Maybe the sterile modernist bus waiting shelters being built can be easily ripped out once city officials, state transit officials and the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy have identified funding needed to push the project farther along than the ominous-looking “blank canvas” that is being built now.
We may be able to find out more by attending a charrette on KP next Wednesday evening sponsored by the regional chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism. There will be a tour at 5:30 starting from the front steps of City Hall. Then, at 6, a panel discussion will be held a couple blocks away at Aurora, 276 Westminster St. – the Wit Building, which was the Providence Black Rep until a few years ago and had been Roots Café until Buff Chace, local developer extraordinaire, bought it a year or so ago.
More information on the charrette is here.