Pleasant PawSox palace

Rendering of stadium viewed from south. (Courtesy of DAIQ)

Rendering of stadium viewed from south. (Courtesy of DAIQ)

I see little reason after a half-season of public discussion of the plan to move the Pawtucket Red Sox to a proposed stadium in downtown Providence to get off the fence. A more detailed plan was released by the new PawSox owners this week, but to judge by media coverage, we still do not know whether the cost of seeing a game will remain, as the owners insist, near the low cost of seeing the team play in Pawtucket.

150412a-baseball-site-plan-225-dpiWe do know more about how much the owners want from the public, and it is too much. It should come down. But we also have the first inkling of what the stadium would look like, and on that side of the ledger the news is extremely positive.

The importance of the stadium design is not just in creating a ballpark more likely to attract fans. There is a largely unknowable extent to which fans come to games not just to root for their team but to enjoy a sensual aesthetic experience unlike what they experience in their normal lives. Modernist ballparks erode the charm of that experience while traditional parks, such as the Fenway and Camden Yards parks in Boston and Baltimore, expand it.

Even more important is the spinoff effect of the ballpark, not so much in jobs as in the designs promoted by the I-195 Redevelopment District in which the stadium would sit – on land already slated for a public park.

There are already plenty of parks near the Providence River, enough that the current designation of that parcel as a park should not be allowed to block a truly advantageous stadium proposal. No, I refer to the possibility that a traditional stadium might cause the new 195 commission to shift away from the earlier commission’s foolish mishmash of design models to something directly promoting traditional design – design that would build on rather than erode one of the city’s and state’s primary competitive advantages.

That will be key to the stadium’s role in creating high-tech jobs.

The stadium design comes from the firm of D’AIQ, in Somerville, and the Boston office of the international firm Populous. Here are the renderings from “PawSox owners present vision for new stadium,” in the Providence Business News:




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. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others 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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12 Responses to Pleasant PawSox palace

  1. Pingback: Roses and raspberries, 2015 | Architecture Here and There

  2. Tim says:

    The renderings are pleasant, yes, but not very imaginative. The uniform ‘retro’ style of many modern ballparks don’t really have a historical precedent in stadium design. If I could suggest a bolder inspiration, something like Philadelphia’s Shibe Park (Connie Mack Stadium) would assert itself among other down city landmarks. Or perhaps something with Art Deco details to echo the Superman building? At any rate, I suppose we could do much worse.


    • Shibe Park was built long, long ago. It is very lovely, but we in Rhode Island can’t afford to bite off more than we can chew. Plus, that’s a major league park, yes, Tim? They should have kept it Connie Mack Stadium, I think, but if they had, it might not be there anymore, or ticket prices might have had to double. I don’t know the details.


    • I don’t think the retro stadium styles are “uniform,” and why do you say the retro stadiums don’t have real historical precedent in stadium design. I’m not sure I disagree with that, only that it don’t know what it means. Surely, if they were uniform they would indeed have precedent of some sort, right? And actually they do have precedent – the design of actual historic stadiums. It’s the modernist bombs like the abandoned RFK Stadium in D.C. that don’t really have historic precedent.


      • Tim says:

        I suppose I find most of the stadiums built in the modern-retro era (from Camden Yards on forward) to be a poor imitation of the past.

        Of the “jewel-box” era ballparks these were meant to emulate, there would surely be no mistaking (old) Yankee Stadium, from Fenway Park, from Wrigley, or from Tiger Stadium. The new ones all come off looking like ersatz Ebbets field.

        I’d certainly agree that we’re far better off with these designs than any modernist monstrosity, I just wish it had a bit more character. Must a ‘classical’ ballpark be all brick and steel?


      • Probably not many granite stadia in the offing!


        • Tim says:

          “Probably not many granite stadia in the offing!”

          Perhaps, but that would certainly justify a $120 million ‘investment’. I’ve no knowledge of current reserves in Westerly, but if ‘farm to table’ is on trend for our restaurants, should our ballparks be ‘quarry to home plate’?


    • Michael Tyrrell says:

      It’s a conservative “design” but its too soon to judge. The design firm they engaged seems well qualified. Give it time to evolve.


  3. Michael Tyrrell says:

    The proposal is absolutely thrilling, and yes, the right Architects and Planners are on board. As you state, David, this scheme will go far to catalyze like-minded, human-scaled, and traditional development. Lets hope they can bring the public subsidy cost in line with reality.


  4. Andrew Liebchen says:

    Good thing they added that lighthouse. It will keep the kayaks that can barely use the river from dashing themselves on the rocks.


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