“Over the next year, a bright and welcoming beacon will emerge from blighted and abandoned property,” says Director of the Department of Planning and Development/Executive Director of the Providence Redevelopment Agency, Bonnie Nickerson. A long-vacant stretch of Broad Street is set to become a stunning gateway and visitor center to Roger Williams Park. Peeks at renderings were released in mid-September as part of Infrastructure Week 2020, a virtual meeting hosted by Mayor Jorge Elorza where participants received first looks at plans. By design, the gateway will appear as an extension of the street – removing any visual boundary between the park and Broad – while the visitor center will become a hub of the destination’s activities.
In mid-summer, the Redevelopment Agency issued a Request for Qualifications from architectural and engineering services, and by September ideas from five teams were unveiled to the community. Feedback resulted in the selection of INFORM, a design collective based in the Midwest. Nickerson states, “The Roger Williams Gateway Welcome Center represents a transformative investment in our community and in our public spaces. With the INFORM Studio design team, neighborhood, and partners, we look forward to creating a welcoming and vibrant gathering place that will serve the Broad Street community and visitors for years to come.”
The multi-hued structure draws a palette from its surroundings. “Borrowing from the diverse cultural vibrancy of the city, color represents the people of Providence,” begins Cory Lavigne, principal at INFORM. “It symbolizes the heritage portrayed through a collection of restaurants, businesses, and homes in the surrounding neighborhoods. It represents families, students, and children; future leaders of Providence. Color stimulates and captivates, drawing residents and visitors alike to the grounds while increasing patronage to local businesses along Broad Street.”