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City of Providence unveils “unified vision” for downtown public spaces

By creating a single cohesive vision for the public spaces that compliments both the existing uses and future conditions, it will help foster increased business activity, and attract visitors.

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The project work focuses on a number of areas, including Waterplace Park
The project work focuses on a number of areas, including Waterplace Park

The City of Providence, Rhode Island, has announced a $16m public investment project to re-envision public spaces in Greater Kennedy Plaza, downtown Providence.

 

City planners have hired Arup to work with public and private stakeholders to create a “single cohesive vision” that connects downtown Providence’s public space network, while maintaining an easily accessible, transit-rich environment.

 

Infrastructure projects

 

The professional services firm is also tasked with developing engineering plans for specified infrastructure projects funded through the City’s Capital Improvement Plan.

 

“With this investment and through our engagement with the Arup team and community stakeholders, we have an opportunity to showcase the increasingly important role of civic, public space and emerge from 2020 ready to lead by example of how to create a place for all of our residents to enjoy more activities, and more living outdoors in our city’s heart,” said Bonnie Nickerson, director of the Department of Planning and Development.

 

Greater Kennedy Plaza has undergone through several physical transformations. As downtown continues to grow and the demographics of the city change, the vitality of its civic hub requires investments that serve all residents and visitors.

“As we continue our work to re-envision public spaces, these investments will further accelerate downtown’s transformation and continue to drive economic development across the city”

According to Providence, by creating a unified vision for the public spaces that compliments both the existing uses and future conditions, it will help foster increased business activity, attract visitors, spur artistic and cultural expression, and ultimately create a safer and more accessible city.

 

“Creating safe and accessible public spaces is salient to great placemaking,” added mayor Jorge Elorza. “In the past decade, the public investments made in downtown Providence have cemented Providence’s reputation as a fun and captivating destination.

 

“As we continue our work to re-envision public spaces, these investments will further accelerate downtown’s transformation and continue to drive economic development across the city.”

 

The project work focuses on Waterplace Park and the downtown RiverWalk, the BankNewport Skating Rink, Memorial Boulevard and Exchange Terrace tunnels, and the central plaza area within Kennedy Plaza.

“There has never been a more important time for us to set a new benchmark for inclusivity, equity, respect and ownership of these shared spaces, ensuring that accessibility means access for all, not just for some”

As part of the unified vision for the area, placemaking modifications include: a cohesive artistic lighting plan; shade structures and two temporary liner buildings at the Providence Rink; a utility plan for Waterplace Park, the tunnels, and Riverwalk between Francis and Steeple streets; a programming plan for the central plaza area at Kennedy Plaza; and a series of modifications to make Waterplace Park and the Riverwalk more accessible and pedestrian friendly. Overall climate resilience in Waterplace Park and along the Riverwalk will also be addressed.

 

“In a time of redefinition of our public spaces, we are planning for the human experience to be at the centre of the design process. The feedback that we hear from the community will provide the foundation for how we approach our plans and designs,” said Alban Bassuet, associate principal, Arup.

 

“There has never been a more important time for us to set a new benchmark for inclusivity, equity, respect and ownership of these shared spaces, ensuring that accessibility means access for all, not just for some.”

 

Public website portal

 

As part of the design and planning phase, the City and Arup are collaborating to create a public website portal that enables users to virtually navigate the 8.6-acre site, view photos of existing site conditions and provide direct feedback to the project team to help inform the planning, design and development process. The website will launch at a later date to be announced.

 

A robust public engagement process will be an integral part of the development and implementation of the project through regular consultations with all stakeholders and community members.

 

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