The Jewelry District, Providence, RI: Imagining the Newly – Contested Edge

COURSE DESCRIPTIONBackgroundWithin the last decade Providence, Rhode Island has branded itself as a city with a lively downtown reshaped by its canals and a new pedestrian oriented core. Large public works interventions and new private mixed-use commercial and residential development have made Providence a desirable place to live and work. Historically, Providence has been a regional hub of commerce, but it now enjoys a growing reputation as a center for arts and culture fueled by Brown University, The Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson and Wales University and an active theater district. The expansion of the Rhode Island Hospital and the Women and Infants Hospital is adding a growing professional class to the city that contributes to its continuing economic revitalization. Geographically, Providence is defined by its major districts: Capitol Hill, WaterPlace Park, Downcity, and College Hill. Now a new sector, made possible by the imminent relocation of Interstate 195, known as the Jewelry District is regarded as the next great opportunity for the economic and cultural expansion of the city. The relocation of Interstate 195 is ongoing and will be completed at the end of 2009. When the old elevated highway is demolished, the Jewelry District will be physically contiguous to the downtown. This instant transformation demands careful consideration of what will be the \”best and highest uses\” for the 20 acres of \”found\” land under the former highway as well as the 35 square blocks that comprise the remainder of the district that are already up for grabs. Pedagogic Objectives A primary focus of the studio will be to formulate design strategies for the reconfiguration and development of the vastly different segments within the Jewelry District – the waterfront, the historic industrial and warehouse neighborhood and the newly available land under the former highway – that will result in a coherent urban vision. The studio will explore design alternatives that should account for the differing needs of diverse constituent groups; the city wanting more taxable mixed-use development; the non-profit educational and health care institutions needing expansion space; and the current resident\’s desire for open space and quality of life enhancements to their neighborhood. It is intended that new land use strategies and corresponding programs be explored to create a dynamic brand of urbanism for 21st Century Providence.Consideration of sustainable design principles, at varying scales ranging from individual buildings to the entire district, will have a place in this studio pedagogy. The manner in which such principles can be applied will be explored and tested. Studio Organization and Schedule1. Weeks 1-3: Individual research tasks in key selected areas will be undertaken to raise the general knowledge of the studio. During this time we will travel to Providence for a series of site visits and meetings. 2. Weeks 4-7: Formulation of Design Strategies and Master Plan Principles3. Weeks 8-13: Development of Architecture and Urban Design ProposalsLogisticsThis studio is open to all GSD students. After the initial 3 week research period, and until the end of the semester, students will draw upon their considerable skills and interests in their respective fields of study. Students will be expected to possess a high-degree of design interest and ability along with essential two and three-dimensional representational proficiency. Rebecca Barnes, Director of Strategic Growth at Brown University and the former chief planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority will be of assistance to the studio in Providence and will attend reviews at the GSD. The first site visit will take place on Friday afternoon September 26. Students are encouraged to take adva