So the most shovel-ready modernist abomination in Providence is apparently about to begin construction. Maybe it’s not too late to redesign the garage so that it fits into its setting. It is right next to a neoclassical power plant being rehabbed as a nursing school in the Jewelry District. This garage typifies the reigning attitude in Providence and Rhode Island development circles that prefers designs that undermine both the Ocean State brand and one of its very few competitive advantages – beauty.
Here is the Providence Journal’s story, “Consruction of downtown Providence parking garage to begin this week,” by Kate Bramson. (The Journal’s farming out of copyediting to Austin, Texas, may be to blame for the assertion that the garage is downtown.) Two proposed dormitories for this South Street Landing project – Brown administration offices plus a state nursing school – are equally stupid and depressing in their design, which seems intent upon blocking views of the beautiful 1912 plant. The firm SGA includes, I believe, the architect who gave us the GTECH building.
This is the sort of thing I raspberried in my post last night. But it is not too late for intelligent design to prevail, and to change the exterior of the garage (and the dorms) so that they will strengthen both the beauty and the brand of Rhode Island and its capital city. Johnson & Wales last year completed a garage just off Webyosset Street (actually in downtown) that does this – or at least gave it a good old college try. If strengthening beauty and brand is not a useful economic development policy, I’ll eat my hat.
Below is a photograph of the Johnson & Wales garage, which probably should have received a rose. I will look into that.
I wrote a column toward the end of my stint at the Journal about how garages can be made elegant and unobtrusive in their settings. Richmond, Va., does this very well. I will grab it and post it as soon as I can.