A few days ago I received, at my request, the latest iteration of plans for a large development on the east embankment of the Providence River by the Carpionato Group. The company had made a presentation of its plan to the Jewelry District Association back in January. I discussed that plan here, and its original proposal from 2013 here. It is apparently now called “The Row at College Hill,” even though it’s really in Fox Point.
Carpionato’s president, Kelly Coates, asked me in January to withhold from this blog images of his presentation to the JDA, which I did, expecting to run those illustrations after the firm presented them to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. But I waited and waited, and finally asked what had happened. So then they sent the images. What I got the other day was a somewhat different set of plans from those presented in January.
The project remains extraordinary in terms of comparison with other projects arising in the 195 district. The rest are all modernist, intrinsically alienating to most people, whereas the Carpionato designs for the east embankment are, in the main, highly traditional and likely to be popular with most users. But the latest version exhibits a watering down – cost cutting, no doubt – from the January plan, which had evolved considerably from the original design proposed in 2013. Its roofs are flatter even than they’d become by January, and it seems to have grown in square footage, necessitating a blockier massing of buildings, though little or no evident increase in their height. Square footage has grown from about 421,500 in January to 480,000 today. Some subtle changes in detailing are also evident, although you can’t be sure that’s not because a different illustrator was used (unidentified in any of the sets of documents emailed to me).
Atop this post is the latest rendering, which is shown again below as part of a progression that stretches from 2013 to January to now. After that is a pair of axonometric sketches from 2013 to now. From these you can judge the extent of the changes so far. While still far superior to every other plan submitted to and approved by the I-195 commission, the recent direction of design evolution is regrettable – so far, in a relatively minor way.
As always, God (or the devil) is in the details.
(The Jewelry District Association will host an update this project and others in the Route 195 corridor (including the results of the JDA survey on the Fane tower) in a meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, at South Street Landing. The Carpionato project and two new proposals I’ve never heard of before – Spenser Providence and Post Road Residential, whatever they are – will come before the I-195 commission a day later, at its meeting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, at its headquarters on Iron Horse Way.)
Again, the sets of images below proceed from the original to the latest:
Axonometric sketches from the original to the latest available (in January):