Providence’s Fogarty Building Demolished, What Other Buildings Should Go?

Monday, March 20, 2017
GoLocalProv Business Team

PHOTO: Anthony Sionni
Providence may be one of the most architecturally rich cities in America.

But even Providence has its blemishes.

While College Hill and Benefit Street are a tour de force of historic importance and showcase preservation at its best, Providence has a few lemons.

Fogarty's Demise - Who's Next?

The Fogarty Building is being demolished. After being vacant for more than a decade, the one-time state welfare office is being taken down to be replaced by a new hotel. And like the Fogarty Building, which was considered a blight by some but embraced by others, there are a number of controversial structures in Rhode Island.

SLIDES: See Some of Providence's Most Controversial Buildings BELOW

Architectural writer David Brussat wrote in GoLocal, “Providence’s beauty depends heavily on the rarity of its modernist buildings.”

Prospect Park
While the Fogarty building’s "Brutalist" style of architecture for many reeked of East German design - utilitarian and void of detail -- it had its supporters. A funeral was even organized following the start of the demolition.

One fan, Nate Storring, posted to Facebook, writing, “What a shame. It could have been so much more. Most brutalists buildings shouldn't be frozen in amber, but tearing them all down will leave a gaping hole in our architectural record. They challenge the way we think about historic preservation in productive ways. There was a time when I remember hearing that AS220 was interested in this building. I wish we got to see how they would have adapted it.”

Now, GoLocal looks at some other examples of debatable architecture in the city -- some brutalists and others not. 

A couple of buildings are Brown University's, in which their design may or may not be considered an actual blight, but in some instances the side of the building that is public-facing is that of loading docks and garbage dumpsters.

College Hill
Architectural Digest's Samuel Cochran wrote in 2014 about why Providence is the best small city in the U.S.:

“Providence is full of interesting neighborhoods, and College Hill is a favorite, its historic and modern buildings all coexisting beautifully,” says AD100 architect Annabelle Selldorf, who is currently overseeing the renovation of Brown’s John Hay Library. When the 1910 English Renaissance–style landmark reopens this September, visitors will be able to revel in the restored 4,400-square-foot reading room, an eloquent double-height interior with a coffered ceiling. That project joins several additions to the school’s grounds, most notably the Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, with multiple venues for student exhibitions and performances."

  • Brown Science Library

    Waterman Avenue

    Brutalist. Out of scale. The top of the building is one of the highest points in Providence and can be seen from miles away. No building in New England outside of Boston City Hall looks more like East Germany the the SciLi.

     
  • Office Building, 1984, Across from the State House

    One State Street.

    Generic-style business building across the street from Rhode Island's iconic marble State House.

     
  • Pizzitola Sports Center

    The building was dedicated in 1989. The front of the building faces the Aldrich-Dexter entrance. The backside of the building is what Providence residents see - rusty, red metal and garage dumpsters. Located on Hope and Olney Streets.

     
  • Citizens Branch 

    Maybe the ugliest building on the East Side of Providence. Completely out of character with the neighborhood. It looks like a bad match for any neighborhood. Brooks and Waterman.

     
  • South Hall RISD

    The RISD dorm is visible while driving up the Hill on Waterman. The brick building is among the University Club, the Court House and other elegant College Hill icons. 30 Waterman Street.

     
  • Roger Williams University/Formerly 38 Studios

    Bad Karma. The building is non-descript. It lives somewhere between Post-Modernism and Brutalism. The bad Karma of 38 Studios has soiled the building perpetually.

     
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