Greater City Providence

What Cheer/What Jeer: January 2009

whatcheerWashington Trust

What Cheer to Washington Trust for moving from their suburban style drive-thru ridden Washington Street location to a nice urban non-drive-thru location on Westminster.

Bonus points for a most excellent sign at the new location.


whatcheerSymmes Maini & McKee Associates

What Cheer to Symmes Maini & McKee Associates for their design of the new Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island headquarters building in Capital Center.

While reaction to the designs of the adjacent Waterplace Condo towers and new GTECH Headquarters has been mixed, the BCBS Tower design seems to integrate the best of both projects to seamlessly fit into Capital Center. The building features a glass curtain wall on the north and south sides of the building, with the south facade feature a very pleasing curve. The design of the glass facade borrows from the glass found on the GTECH Headquarters. On the east and west facade we see a pre-cast treatment reminiscent of the Waterplace Towers (but many would say more pleasing than the Waterplace Towers). In addition to it’s aesthetics, the BCBS building also seeks LEED Silver certification. According to an article in the New England Real Estate Journal the BCBS building will feature high-performing insulated glass curtain walls, daylight penetrating the full-height glass wall will enable sensors to dim or turn off building perimeter lighting, two “green” vegetated roofs, rainwater collection for use in the building’s cooling the equipment, and interior finishes such as furniture and finishes that are low-voc emitting, rapidly-renewable, and regionally developed.

whatcheerMoran Shipping Agencies, Inc.

What Cheer to Moran Shipping Agencies, Inc. not only for moving back to Providence from Warwick, not only for renovating an historic downtown building for it’s new HQ, but also for doing it green.

Moran was founded in Providence in 1937 before moving to Warwick where it is now headquartered. Today Moran has office in 20 cities providing services in 90 ports across the United States.

Jason Kelly Moran’s Executive Vice President tells the Providence Journal that the green design elements came from wanting to maintain the historic integrity of the former Medical Society Building.

Early on it became clear that the building needed a large heating and air-conditioning system and the only place it would fit was the roof | where it would be highly visible and very ugly.

At that point, Virginia L. Branch and others at Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels architects guided Kelly to a geothermal system designed by Innovative Construction & Design Solutions LLC, of Guilford, Conn.

The green design techniques do not end at the geothermal heat exchanger though (believed to be the first in downtown Providence), a bioswale will collect rainwater from the building’s small surface parking lot keeping runoff from the site out of storm drains and the Woonasquatucket River, showers and bike racks will be installed for bike commuters. These among other items will allow the building to seek LEED Silver certification.

The icing on the cake here is that Moran is keeping it’s HQ here in Rhode Island and plans to add 12 new jobs once the move to Providence is complete in April.

whatcheerBenders Caffe

What Cheer to Benders Caffe for becoming the first Certified Green Restaurant in Rhode Island.

Located on Weybosset Street between Eddy and Dorrance, Benders owners Chris Mathis and Julie Pung have an on-going commitment to being green. In the initial phase of green certification the restaurant did the following:

  • Energy Efficiency and Conservation – outfitting walk-in refrigerators with energy saving strip curtains (these can reduce air infiltration by 75%)
  • Waste Reduction – replacing paper labels with non-toxic stamps and ink
  • Pollution Prevention – using biodegradable bags, cutlery, to-go cups, containers, straws and coffee stirrers, and recycled and chlorine free paper products
  • Environmental Education – in-store signage educating customers and employees on the benefits of their environmental changes
  • Sustainable Food – sourcing organic foods, coffee and tea

Benders also has a full scale recycling program wherein they compost their food scraps and send it to a local pig farm, outfit their staff with organic cotton t-shirts and hats, and use no Styrofoam in the coffee shop. To maintain their certification, Benders will be implementing 4 green steps per year.

whatjeerGranoff Associates

What Jeer to Granoff Associates for closing the 181 year old Arcade.

While Granoff and it’s parters wrap-up work on the Hampton Inn across the street, the remaining tenants of the Arcade were forced out in early December and the historic mall (the oldest in America) was shuttered. Granoff is currently seeking a single retail or corporate tenant to occupy the building, stating that the arrangement of small shops we’re all familiar with will not be coming back.

As the Providence Journal states in their December 12th editorial, “if the Granoffs do not believe that they can operate the Arcade as a collection of retail and other businesses, perhaps they could sell it to someone who does.”


whatjeerLocal Mainstream Media Meltdown

What Jeer to the sad slow demise of The Providence Journal.

As parent company Belo buys-out veteran reporters and sells the headquarters out from under ProJo, we all suffer. The Fouth Estate is vital to a healthy democracy, especially in Rhode Island, we need the media to shine a light on the goings on in government, business, academia, everywhere. While Providence Business News and The Providence Phoenix continue to do a good job within their respective niches, the grande dame of Rhode Island journalism continues to wither. There are great blogs throughout the state, but we need the trained professional journalist out on the beat uncovering the stories we do not have the time, money, experience, or connections to get to.

As Dan Kennedy points out, not all papers are hemorrhaging cash, often it is their owners who are. Though the Tribune Co. has gone into bankruptcy due to it’s $13.6 billion in debt, Tribune flagship newspapers, The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times on their own would be profitable. Could it be possible that unshackled from the bounds of Belo Corp. the ProJo could become profitable under a local owner. Perhaps at the very least the ProJo’s horrific website could thrive if removed from under the thumb of directives from Dallas.

whatjeerEconomic Leadership

What Jeer to our Economic Leadership, like so many other outlets have reported, it sucks, what more is there to say?

Greater City Providence

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