Another imagining for the Arcade, courtesy local architect’s RISD students

RISD STUDENTS presented ideas for adaptive reuse of Providence’s Arcade. Shown are three perspectives that use the Arcade as the entrance to a high-rise hotel that would be built on the lot to the east of the nearly two-century-old building.
Posted 12/20/10

PROVIDENCE – A group of Rhode Island School of Design students had their chance last week to pitch plans for the revitalization of the Arcade in Providence.

The former shopping center has sat vacant since 2008, when plans to redevelop the building as an office complex never materialized. On Dec. 16, students from the college’s departments of architecture and interior architecture presented five proposals to Evan Granoff, a managing member at Granoff Associates, which owns the building.

RISD professor Friedrich St.Florian said the proposals ranged from hotels to building a spa on the third floor, and restoring retail and restaurants to the ground level. All the proposals keep the more than 182-year-old Arcade as the hub of the development and the main entrance. The students also incorporated the lots on either side of the Arcade, including the one with the façade of the Providence National Bank Building.

“We did it as a public service. We wanted to bring the discussion back on the front burner,” St.Florian said.

Granoff, in a telephone interview Dec. 17, said he was impressed with the presentations by the students, which included upper-level undergraduate students and graduate students. But the realities of financing would likely get in the way, he said.

“Some of the stuff was like ‘Wow it would be great,’ but I don’t know if the economics would be there at this time,” he said.

Granoff said he is laying the groundwork for a new proposal for the building. He declined to detail specifics, saying the plan remained in its infancy, but said the concept does not resemble the ones proposed by the RISD students. He added that the plan would keep the building and said more information is likely to come early next year.

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