Bruner Foundation Bruner Loeb Forum Bruner Foundation Effectiveness Initiatives

2003 Silver Medal

Providence, RI

The Providence River Relocation is a transportation-based project designed to improve traffic flows in and through downtown Providence while setting the stage for an impressive public arts program and dramatic revitalization of the downtown. The project is exceptionally broad in scope, and includes:
  • Relocation of the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers, including uncovering and restoring two-thirds of a mile of the rivers.
  • Development of 1.5 miles of auto-free riverwalks and construction of twelve new bridges which restored historical links among Providence's Capital Center, College Hill, and the downtown.
  • Rail relocation and construction of a new train station.
  • Realignment and extension of major streets with highway connections, pedestrian walkways, small parks and plazas.
  • Relocation of a World War I monument from a traffic circle to Memorial Park.
  • A new urban park (Waterplace Park) with restaurant, amphitheatre, fountain, boat landing and multiple pedestrian connections (a total of 11 acres of new open space consisting of rivers and parks).
  • Three docking sites for boat traffic accommodated by uniform bridge clearances and dredging.
  • Public art programming in the new open spaces including "WaterFire" and "Convergence."
  • Creation of a 77 acre Capital Center Special Development District.
  • Over $1 billion of new investment in the Capital Center District with an additional $182 million outside of it.
The Selection Committee recognized the project for the attainment of a wide range of goals, for literally changing the face of downtown Providence, for an impressive level of cooperation among public agencies; for design excellence in the detailing and design of the riverfront; and for the heroic proportions of the effort. The Committee also noted the excellence and creativity of programming for the relocated river. Waterfire in particular was noted a unique and important in Providence's success in bringing people back into the downtown and creating a cultural event that unique to Providence but iwell known throughout the region. The efforts of William Warner as a visionary in the project were also noted, as was the importance of encouraging cities to think on a grand scale in long-term planning.

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