Once again Kennedy Plaza is being torn up. Will the resulting public space be worth the major inconvenience to pedestrians, drivers, and RIPTA riders, caused by the construction? Or are we getting an unlovable, featureless void. Last month ProJo architecture critic David Brussat revealed that the original and well-received plans from Union Studio Architects, offered up in 2013, seem to have been altered and stripped down.
In the latest plan, pushed by city officials at a cost of $2.4 million, the bus kiosks disappear, though the lampposts survive, joined by new “minimalist” shelters out of sync with the plaza’s design. A bosk of trees will be added. Replacing the existing surface would appear to doom the snow-melting grid beneath it. The outside bus lanes will be filled in and the bus island will expand to make room for a central space that could become Providence’s version of Boston’s bleak and windswept piazza adjoining its Brutalist-style City Hall.
Brussat includes relevant illustrations, “Halt this attack on the people’s plaza.”
I like the fact that of all the elements the planners just had to keep was “The Hiker” — a statue commemorating Spanish War veterans. It is sure to provide a focal point where people will naturally congregate. That conflict is still so much on our minds.