Eulogies for Fogarty on tap

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Fogarty Building in downtown Providence. (exploringvenustas.wordpress.com)

Whether you are glad or sad to see it go, the Fogarty Building finally seems about to ruthlessly collide its chunky members, such as they are, for the last time. Demolition of the empty, forlorn 1967 building in the Brutalist style is set to begin soon, at 111 Fountain St., though one snowfall has already delayed it and another on the way just might. Some in Providence are preparing to bid the Fogarty a fond adieu.

Marisa Angell Brown, assistant director of programs at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage, and Caroline Stevens of Doors Open RI , along with Marena Wisniewski at the Providence Preservation Society, and others, are organizing a “wake” for the poor old sod. They have been tracking down people to give brief eulogies at the free but somber event to be held Friday, March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, at 4 p.m. near the Fogarty. Brown has asked me to fashion a eulogy that chills the proverbial skunk in the funeral parlor, and I have agreed.

That should not be so difficult. Fogarty was a modest fellow, notwithstanding its Brutalism. Instead of ruthlessly colliding its chunky members (that’s from the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture), its concrete squats between Fountain and Sabin with considerable civility, its rectangular windows laid out with military precision, its massing fairly identical to that of its neighbor, the Providence Journal Building, where I worked for 30 years without giving the old boy more than the occasional nod. Not my cup of tea? Of course not. But Brutalist? Not quite.  Not really. Too inoffensive. Didn’t quite muster the brusque jackanapes that its name suggests and that characterize of many of its brethren.

So we will mourn in the true spirit of St. Patrick, who was certainly not the Fogarty’s patron saint but who may be relied upon to shed a happy tear.

For more information, email Marisa Brown at marisa_brown@brown.edu or Caroline Stevens at mailto:caroline@doorsopenri.org.

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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