Mod dorms bite the dust

Abandoned dorm project on Parcel 28 of I-195 corridor. (

Abandoned dormitory project on Parcel 28 of I-195 corridor. (

Perhaps the worst-looking project proposed for the I-195 corridor has been abandoned. It is hard to say whether this is good news or bad news, given Rhode Island’s need to develop the land. How nice it would be to read that the project collapsed under the weight of its sheer ugliness. But here is Kate Bramson’s story in the Providence Journal: “Route 195 development: Student housing dropped.”

No reason is given. Yet the design cannot have helped generate enthusiasm for the twin dormitory project. According to Joseph Azrack, chairman of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, another developer has already expressed interest in Parcel 28, possibly with similar plans. Let’s hope it is more attractively designed and does not require demolishing a historic building, as the abandoned project did.

Bramson’s story also had bad news for those hoping that the demise of the PawSox stadium proposal would hasten progress on the public park, whose land the ballpark would have taken, and for the pedestrian bridge long contemplated to connect the two parks planned on either side of the Providence River. Apparently not.

“It has to do with the budgetary situation at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation,” Azrack said. “Until there are more funds available, and from what we’ve been told … they’re not going to start work on the bridge or on the west-side park until there’s more funds available.”

Maybe that’s good news. Both the bridge and the park need further design work before they are ready for a state that calls on people to “Discover Beautiful Rhode Island.”

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.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Art and design, Development, I-195 Redevelopment District, Preservation, Providence, Providence Journal, Urbanism and planning and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mod dorms bite the dust

  1. Dominique Gregoire says:

    There is no need to hurry and develop the 195 and with one ugly building after another and no life in the streets (i.e. Capital Center), the officials visiting from Germany (Condor Airlines) said it well: downtown Providence is dead! Moscow 1 and Moscow 2 towers at Waterplace Park (would fit in Hartford Park) create a sense of desolation in a desert of concrete and asphalt. where is the connection with the existing historic urban fabric? The same will happen at 195 (see student housing project by Baccari), no style, no historic vision! What are we doing? The haste to develop that land will lead to an architectural and urban design disaster. Rome was not built in one, neither was Paris: see the results! Do you imagine that for such a prime land on the waterfront and in the middle of one major city in America there was no master plan by an architect, no international contest to bring the best and brightest to bear. NO we’d rather have DOT design the street grid, the bridge and the park! Engineers don’t make cities, architects do! Amen!


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