KP discombobulation

Kennady Plaza's proposed 2013 redesign by Union Studio Architects.

Kennady Plaza’s proposed 2013 redesign by Union Studio Architects.

Here is a piece about Kennedy Plaza by Brandon Klayko for 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 CafĂ© until Buff Chace, local developer extraordinaire, bought it a year or so ago.

More information on the charrette is here.

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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