(Click link above to watch video). “This project was done at RISD sometime during March 2007, for a design studio based around Detroit City. The prompt for this two week project was to make a movie based upon our preconceived notions of the D. Cezar Nicolescu, Brian Hildebrand, and [Thomas Sheridan] set out to expose the fallacy of downtown revitalization via casino development. Ironically, the film ends up portraying gambling as a rewarding and lucrative investment. Thomas Gardner and Matthew Miller were our critics for this project.”
“Searching for the People of Pawtucket”
A mapping of public space and public interaction in the beautiful city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. All the events seen in the animation are based on real encounters.
(Video/map made for the HOTEL PAWTUCKET studio. Critic: T. Gardner)
PAWTUCKET — This spring, downtown Pawtucket will be the classroom for a group of architecture students from the Rhode Island School of Design.
According to The Pawtucket Foundation’s Executive Director Thomas Mann, the Foundation has formed a partnership with RISD’s Architecture Department. Twelve students in the Advanced Design studio led by professors Thomas Gardner and Matthew Miller will use the city’s historic downtown as a laboratory for learning about the integration of architecture and sustainable design.
Mann said the studio will focus on the Green Community International Student Design Competition for creating sustainable architecture. The competition’s theme asks the students to consider “How can we plan, design, and construct the world between our buildings?” The students’ architectural design work that results from the studio will be showcased in an upcoming exhibition, he added.
Mann said he decided to reach out to RISD as a resource as the Foundation continues its mission of advocating for downtown, riverfront and gateway improvements within the city. “I think it’s extremely vital to foster a strong connection with the academic community, and this is a great way to continue a meaningful dialogue about the juxtaposition of innovative urban design and historic architecture in Pawtucket’s National Register historic district,” said Mann. He added, “I hope that the student work will present a unique window of opportunity for us to assess how well
Pawtucket’s land use and design ordinance allows and encourages sustainable design.”
Lynette Widder, head of RISD’s Architecture Department, commented that she hopes this partnership can lead to a long-term relationship that can explore many topics on a wide variety of scales. She added that Pawtucket’s rich heritage and stock of historic resources is a natural environment to explore the relationship of new and old, and that it offers a unique opportunity to share its long history of artisan craft and innovation.
On Tuesday, Mann met with the students and their professors at the Blackstone Valley Visitors Center to present an overview of recent development activity in the city as well as new opportunities for “infill development.” He touted the city’s affordability and diversity, and its unique location on the Blackstone River as well as its proximity to I-95 and the larger metro regions of Providence and Boston.
Mann spoke of how the city is positioned to be a key player in the metro region once plans for a commuter rail station come to fruition. He also showed the students how the city’s downtown was designed to be a walkable center, which was later made less efficient by urban renewal efforts that resulted in some parking lots and buildings being in “the wrong places.”
Using some artistic renderings, Mann pointed out to the students how simple additions such as new signage, storefronts, sidewalk tree plantings and other cosmetic changes can go a long way toward improving existing streetscapes that now look tired and shopworn. He cited the Broad Street and Roosevelt Avenue revitalization projects as examples of how city officials and local business leaders are working together in trying to make improvements.
Mann also spoke to the students about the numerous mill redevelopment projects that have either been completed or are currently in the works. He cited the success of Hope Artiste Village as bringing in small businesses and the ambitious plans that the same developer has for the former Paramount Cards and Conant Thread Mill complex.
In addition, Mann showed how several other mill projects are estimated to bring in over 700 new housing units, which could result in an influx of 700 to 1,000 residents to the downtown area. However, he challenged the students to come up with ideas for making these units more appealing to buyers. “How can we create housing demand?” he asked. “We have the supply, but how do we create the amenities that people need to live in the downtown?”
Sue Mara, senior planner for the city, also spoke to the students about the city’s efforts to encourage revitalization. She said that city officials regularly meet with developers and business owners so they know what they are dealing with up front in the way of state and local codes and regulations. “The city tries to have fair regulations and then get out of the way,” she said, in explaining the working philosophy.
Mann noted that the city has had success with marketing itself as an arts community, but said it might be time to broaden the focus to attract other types of growing job sectors, such as engineering, mathematics, and health care. He also pointed out the need for the students to be realistic about the city and to take into account the existing policies, regulations and codes. He urged them to consider the “intersection of policy and design.”
Mann concluded by outlining to the students how investments in the city’s future must happen in four key areas: innovation, human capital, infrastructure, and quality places.
(via Pawtucket Times)>
PAWTUCKET – In a partnership with The Pawtucket Foundation, 12 architecture students at the Rhode Island School of Design will use Pawtucket’s downtown to explore “the integration of architecture and sustainable design.”
A studio led by professors Thomas Gardner and Matthew Miller will use the city as its muse for the Green Community International Student Design Competition.
“I think it’s extremely vital to foster a strong connection with the academic community and this is a great way to continue a meaningful dialogue about the juxtaposition of innovative urban design and historic architecture in Pawtucket’s National Register historic district,” Pawtucket Foundation Executive Director Thomas A. Mann Jr. said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “I hope that the student work will present a unique window of opportunity for us to assess how well Pawtucket’s land-use and design ordinance allows and encourages sustainable design.”
The initiative will be one of the first major undertakings since Mann took over last fall. In early February, the foundation released “A Blueprint ^ Bridge to Prosperity” mission statement, outlining its goals, which included investment in infrastructure.
“A sustainable infrastructure that is sensitive to our natural resources can help us improve air quality, conserve land and natural resources and reduce our consumption of gas and electricity,” the report said.
In a statement, RISD Architecture Department head Lynnette Widder said Pawtucket’s historic resources and rich heritage “offers a unique opportunity to share its long history of artisan craft and innovation.”
The Pawtucket Foundation – a partner in the Northern Rhode Island Tri-Communities Coalition – is a policy group established by local business and nonprofit leaders to encourage economic development and reinvestment in Pawtucket and Central Falls and advocate for downtown, river and gateway improvements. For additional information, including background information about Executive Director Thomas A. Mann Jr., visit www.PawtucketFoundation.org.
(via Providence Business News)
From RISD Architecture:
Joe Haskett - Principal, Distill Studio
John Dunnigan - Dean, RISD Architecture & Design
Elizabeth Dean Hermann - Professor, RISD Landscape Architecture
Matt Miller – Professor, RISD Architecture
Anastasia Congdon - Senior Associate, Friedrich St. Florian Architects
Jonathan Knowles - Professor, RISD Architecture
Thomas Gardner, Professor, RISD Architecture