How can architecture facilitate increased interdisciplinary interaction between people working in Providence, Rhode Island to further their creative, entrepreneurial and research initiatives?
Located in the historic Jewelry District, Providence’s emerging knowledge economy is on the brink of realization but lacks sufficient physical and financial resources. By utilizing vacant land from the recent relocation of the Interstate and involving local universities (Brown, RISD, Johnson & Wales) and companies as shareholders in RI’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RICIE), a phased development would result in a network of ‘co-working’ and ‘co-learning’ spaces that will spark collaboration, support small businesses and provide additional facilities for the universities.
During Phase I, (5-10 years), the design intervention would grow out from a new ‘spine’ of the city, a bike/walking path through the Knowledge District, which will create small pockets of physical density that will activate the vacant land and surrounding community. These activity hubs would provide spaces for people to meet and socialize, work individually or in groups, eat, join a cooperative garden, play, or perform.
Perspectives: A new urban spine/circulation route develops and community activity nodes emerge along it
In Phase II, (10-20 years), more permanent spaces would evolve from the existing framework and assimilate existing knowledge centers in the District. Specifically the steel structure of the temporary, mesh panel enclosures of Phase I will offer supports for the building’s new curtain wall envelope while the panels’ materiality will transition to glass in order to become more durable and thermally efficient. These resulting buildings would offer comfortable and open public working spaces, as well as removed private spaces, which are conducive to knowledge and resource sharing.
Perspectives: Temporary community activity nodes evolve into more permanent spaces for collaborative working and learning
Over time, diverse educational programs and networking opportunities within a growing community of creative professionals and significant pedestrian-oriented greenspace will further link the historic District with the Downtown and attract new entrepreneurship to the city.
Full-Scale Model of Enclosure Design Element
Sectional Model Along Spine at Transition Point Between Phases