Downcity Providence could be interpreted as one island. Defined by the riverfront and a highway, the Financial and Jewelry district are clearly detached from the surrounding areas; College Hill, Smith Hill, Federal Hill, South Providence and Fox Point. And while the riverfront consists an advantageous capital for the city, with its famous Waterplace Park, the highway wraps around the city undermining its continuity and connectivity with the rest of the neighborhoods.
The Wall is an answer to the question of how a city deals with its limits and edges. Specific boundaries are not always factor of segregation, but also a decisive factor of urbanity. Downcity, Providence is surrounded by highway I-95. This piece of infrastructure shaped a powerful boundary for the city having an impact to both its connectivity and integrity along this edge. The solution proposed is a linear zoning along this edge that will accommodate big programs, preferably requiring access to the highway. Thus, and given the fact that the densification of the city will result in limited vehicular access and parking, most of the circulation will be absorbed right at the edge of the city allowing the inner street network to function properly. This zoning features big height and an interconnected linear network of commercial arcades at the ground floor. Thus, this zoning will generate a homogenous and rigid urban element that will be read as the city’s new identity from the outside and a continuous urban façade from the inside, restructuring the dismantled urban scape while protecting Downcity from the noise and aesthetics of the highway.
The Wall is interrupted on the intersection with major streets, shaping gateways for the city. This way the Wall does not segregate the city from its surroundings, but formalize and mark its welcoming points
Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture - Urban Design Studio
Providence, USA | 36 Ha
Professor: Michael Dennis
2011 Cambridge, USA