Providence Considers Plan for a More Pedestrian Friendly Kennedy Plaza

City Terrain East

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All images courtesy TimNelson3D.com / Union Studio Architecture & Community Design

Not unfamiliar with daring urban design endeavors, Providence, RI is gearing up for a $20 million transformation of Kennedy Plaza, a major transportation hub and park dating to 1848 in the city’s downtown. The overhaul designed by Providence-based Union Studio Architects was announced in late April and calls for upholding the plaza’s principal position as a public-transit terminal, preserving the 2002 intermodal station. Change in the site’s layout will relocate bus kiosks to the perimeter of the plaza so as to create supplementary space for public and private activities to enliven the space.

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The new Kennedy Plaza scheme calls for building a public marketplace and new parks in area that was once dedicated to the bus transit center. By reorganizing bus access through the square, the city hopes to improve pedestrian safety and provide an easier transit experience.

The plaza will also integrate more tables and chairs for an al fresco experience to complement an elegant new cafe. A skating rink described by locals as a “fortress” will be softened with diversified uses while the park area of the plaza, known as Burnside Park, will be better integrated with the overall Kennedy Plaza site. The design calls for a site imagined as a series of nine distinct spaces (see plan below) from a market square to a formal gardens to a central square.

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Details of the new Kennedy Plaza are still being finalized and additional fundraising is taking place. Already, support has been pledged from the National Endowment for the Arts and public and private groups in Providence. If all goes as planned, the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy could begin construction this year, which a phased approach that could take five years to complete. Participating stakeholders are the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), the Providence Foundation, the Biltmore Hotel and Cornish Associates.

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Proposed changed to Kennedy Plaza. (Courtesy Union Studio Architecture & Community Design)

Proposed changed to Kennedy Plaza. (Courtesy Union Studio Architecture & Community Design)

Current view of Kennedy Plaza. (Courtesy Union Studio Architecture & Community Design)

Current view of Kennedy Plaza. (Courtesy Union Studio Architecture & Community Design)

Greater Kennedy Plaza plan.

Greater Kennedy Plaza plan.

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