Greater City Providence

Brown begins work on Ship Street Square

Ship Street Square

As part of their Jewelry District development plan, Brown University is turning a portion of a surface parking lot at the corner of Richmond and Ship Streets into a public plaza, Ship Street Square.

The Brown Daily Herald wrote about it in April:

The new Medical Education Building at 222 Richmond St. will be completed in July. A month later, the University plans to wrap up its conversion of a nearby parking lot to a public plaza, featuring terraced wood flooring and red maple trees. Built with expectations of outdoor concerts, dance and yoga classes, movie screenings and farmers’ markets, it will be a “livable urban space,” said Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences. Food vendors and lunch trucks will gravitate to the space, he added.

Ship Street Square
Ship Street Square rendering by Melk Landscape Architecture via The Brown Daily Herald

For the near future at least, the Square will be backed by surface parking. As seen in the rendering though, and as would be assumed, future plans call for a building or buildings (to be determined later) to fill in the parking lot. The square will really come into its own once the rest of the lot is built out.

The lot will of course provide for space for those food trucks envisioned by Mr. Wing above.

It will be nice to have a public space in the Jewelry District where one can sit and rest. Today I took my lunch down to the waterfront where the parks along the river are supposed to be.

Providence River Waterfront
Not a park yet, but there's a picnic table where Route 195 used to be.

It is going to be a while still before the riverfront parks are ready for prime time. Currently, there’s pretty much nowhere one can go and sit outside in the Jewelry District.

Count me as looking forward to Brown making swift progress on Ship Street.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I was thinking for a moment, “how nice for an institution to be so generous to the city and the public at large that it can give back some of it’s land for this use.” Then I thought that it was sad that this act is seen as generous and not mundane.

  • Those look like the same photoshop trees that ?melk? used on their pedestrian bridge competition. See Team 4. They need a bigger tree library.

  • Oh right. The other thing I meant to say… I will be so stupendously disappointed if it looks anything like that rendering.

  • A pretty horrible rendering indeed. Not sure exactly what we’re supposed to get from it other than a lesson in CAD 101: How Not to Use CAD.

  • My favorite part of the rendering is the woman in high heels on a bike without a helmet checking her cellphone in the middle of the walkway. Likely will happen.

    However, as I ate lunch on the dock near Davol Square yesterday I was pining for a bustling park to visit in the Jewelry District. A few hours later you posted this and I couldn’t have been happier. Aside from the docks there are few benches to sit and eat your lunch or outdoor places to pause for a break here in the Jewelry District.

  • The high heeled, helmet-less, texting, cyclist is indeed the most likely and my favorite part of the rendering too.

  • Looks more like a thoroughfare than a square. Maybe they need some more space to give life to the park in the middle.

  • I am not sure how I feel about the translucent person. Will it be a haunted square? Also, what’s the deal with the couple clearly making out against the wall there? Hookers?

  • For the record, it looks like her far foot is on the ground. She’s stopping out of the roadway to text, which is a practice we oughta be commending. Also, I have a friend who swears by heeled riding – the pedal sort of locks into the arch.

    Maybe I’m feeling stiff today, but what’s with the snobbishness? the rendering does suck, but Court’s the only one who has offered a suggestion for making it better. I think they should get rid of all the stairs and create a plaza (elevated or not) at one level. There would be more space for benches, planters etc.

  • This is indeed silly, but the texting bike girl sure looks like she has both feet on her pedals to me, implying she is in motion. Most of the rest of the people are roaming aimlessly through the middle of the street, which makes for a very realistic rendering if the students at the Med School behave like their classmates on College Hill. 🙂

  • A bad rendering indeed, but a stellar piece of dada: It has caused an amusing uproar.

    Give texting girl some benefit of the doubt. I would think her left heel is on the ground. But where is the shadow of that foot?

  • I very much agree Tom. There’s more of a focus on GETTING to other places here, rather than using the space for refreshment or relaxation. I’ve seen this same design focus along the upper end of the waterfront, where benches are positioned awkwardly, (one foot from the river’s guard rail – great view of the guard rail bar, not much of river itself), while the river path shoots straight through without stopping behind it. Occasionally I see small groups of people gathered there, but they don’t stay long, or wander. It almost seems like we’re embarrassed to even visualize relaxing.

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