Welcome to Warwick? Ha!

The Elizabeth Mill, in Warwick, R.I. (Providence Journal photo by Sandor Bodo)

The Elizabeth Mill, in Warwick, R.I. (Providence Journal photo by Sandor Bodo)

The city of Warwick has made a big mistake permitting a developer to tear down the Elizabeth Mill near T.F. Green State Airport, in Warwick. Warwickers are always miffed that airline captains say “Welcome to Providence” upon landing in Warwick. But Warwick is very much a placeless place, at least compared to Providence, which is the state capital and the official destination for all flights coming into Rhode Island.

Proposed to rise over site of demolished mill is a mixed-use building near airport. (Integlia Development)

Proposed to rise over site of demolished mill is a mixed-use building near airport. (Integlia Development)

Warwick is trying to turn the area around the airport into a destination for intermodal mixed-use development, but in letting a developer who said he would save the Elizabeth Mill instead tear it down for something like the illustration at left, the city is getting off on the wrong foot. I’m not buying that the mill was not salvageable. Michael Integlia says he will market apartments in the new building for people who find its “funky” aesthetic appealing. But this is not funky, it is merely fucked up.

If Warwick wants pilots to say “Welcome to Warwick,” the city must do more to prevent places like the Elizabeth Mill from being torn down to make way for places that increase the city’s increasingly famous placelessness.

Developer Michael Integlia (holding illustration) and Warwick Mayor Scott Avidesian. (Journal photo by Sandor Bodo)

Developer Michael Integlia (holding illustration) and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian. (Journal photo by Sandor Bodo)

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, dbrussat@gmail.com, 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.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Development, Preservation, Rhode Island, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Welcome to Warwick? Ha!

  1. spatev says:

    Lol and it still a vacant lot. Warwick is as “placeless” as you could manage. One big traffic circle


  2. barry says:

    David Brussat’s take on this was praised on the blog site Greater City Providence http://www.gcpvd.org so I think its only fair to mention that site has a lively dscussion about this mill and the adjacent district. Check it out!
    My comments include the idea that anywhereville design won’t necessarily work out for Rhode Island which may be better off promoting its traditional architecture which sets us apart from many other places. I also thought any tax breaks should require steps to reduce traffic by promoting use of the nearby train and bus facilities.
    Other comments there include opposition to the skybridge walkway as it undermines attempts to build street life for pedestrians. Related, Jefferson Blvd needs a “road diet” to slow traffic if there is to be hope of a pedestrian friendly district.


  3. Anonymous says:

    That factory was built in 1975? It’s much older than that. The replacement building is as unattractive as the so-called walkway to the multimillion dollar “intermodal” garage!


  4. David, Is that building the old Gorham Silver factory? I spent summers working there in college, if so. A classic that could easily be converted into lofts, so trending in Downtown Providence.


  5. Erik Bootsma says:

    Can you say bait and switch? Classic failure to recognize the better permanence of an old building. This glass and steel behemoth will be a maintenance nightmare.


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