Hope Point Tower(s) sliced?

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The middling tower, 43 stories, of Hope Point Towers. (Fane)

Tonight at 5 the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission meets. On top of its agenda is a picture of the recently proposed Hope Point Towers project, missing two of its projected three high-rises. But the project itself is not on the public agenda specifically, though it might be discussed behind closed doors in the executive session.

Nothing really has changed, since from the start two of the three towers were aspirational, or maybe I should say proposed to come on line possibly not all at once but in stages. The Fane Organization seems to believe that repositioning or reconceptualizing the project as one tower rather than three will help it brave mounting local opposition.

Personally, I am concerned at the lack of P.R. savvy of a developer who waltzes into town with a huge development proposal and then proceeds to denigrate the dear historical character upon which Providence prides itself. “Cutesy,” indeed. But, hey! Lack of P.R. savvy is not necessarily accompanied by lack of financial or development savvy. After all, Fane is headquartered in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, so who am I to raise my eyebrows?

My opposition would diminish considerably if the tower, or three of them, were relocated to downtown. Even at their proposed heights, intelligent placement of the towers on one or more open parcels now used as parking lots would enable higher population density to spark greater vivacity than putting them in the Jewelry District, where their height (be it 33, 43 and 55 stories or just 43) is not just out of character but illegal. I don’t care whether the status of the Industrial Trust as the city’s tallest tower survives, but if it is to be lapped then let it be lapped usefully. Centralizing density downtown in a manner that adds to our skyline rather than scattering it would be useful.

Is there an objection to downtown? Could it be that it lacks the state and city incentives associated with the 195 land? Well, those incentives have already been extended to Capital Center. Why – if they are such a good idea – should they not be extended also to the downtown?

Oh yes. Can the five-story platform be deep-sixed? Whether in the Jewelry District or downtown, it is a mammoth intrusion on the grid and the (potential) life of the street.

And finally, how about losing the Minion windows?

More to come on this project, no doubt. Details of tonight’s meeting are on the agenda.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. 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 fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and 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 invest your prose with even more style and clarity, 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.
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