Greater City Providence

Downcity Design Review Committee Meeting (03/09)

Department of Planning and Development , 4th Floor Auditorium
400 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes: January 12, 2009 and February 9, 2009
  • Approval of 2009 DRC Calendar

Project Review

1. Case No. 09.04 One AT&T Plaza Proposal to relocate the Veteran’s War Memorial, formerly located on the old Civic Center Plaza on Sabin Street, to the plaza in front of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Building. One AT&T Plaza is bounded by Sabin, Empire and Fountain Streets (across from LaSalle Square).

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2. Case No. 09.02 165 Washington Street Civic Center Parking Garage (Public Hearing) The subject of the hearing will be an application by Joseph DiBattista, requesting a waiver of DRC Regulations prohibiting internally illuminated signs. The proposed LED signs are to be installed on the Washington Street and Adrian Hall Way elevations. (continued from the DRC meeting scheduled for 2/9/09)

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One AT&T Plaza!?! Am I to assume from that that AT&T bought the Blue Cross Blue Shield Building in LaSalle Square? Anyone?

Update: Here’s what I learned. It should be called, in the greatest Rhode Island tradition, “Where AT&T Used To Be Plaza.” Because AT&T used to be in the BCBS Building. I shall start calling it, “The Plaza Across From The Old Public Safety Building Memorial Parking Lot in LaSalle Square Plaza.”

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.


  • That’s what it sounds like to me. If that’s true, it’s a pleasant surprise. I only wish they could knock that shit down, and build something worth looking at instead.

  • For some reason I never think of AT&T as having a corporate presence. They’re a massive company, but I don’t even know where they are headquartered. A quick Google reveals they recently moved HQ from San Antonio to Dallas.

  • The portion of Empire between Fountain and Sabin/Broadway is actually what is called LaSalle Square. I think having the plaza named for a corporation, especially one that is no longer there is TheDumb. If AT&T were actively maintaining the plaza it would be one thing, if not, then I think it is time for a rename on the Plaza.

    Admittedly, I don’t have ancestors who burned the Gaspee or anything, but I’ve been here a while and this is the first time I’ve heard this plaza referred to as AT&T Plaza. Unless there was some payment made by AT&T that gave them naming rights that we can’t change or something, it is time we start calling it something else.

    With the war memorial going there, I think something veterans related would be a good option.

  • Everyone help me out here… I’m not sold on the war memorial there being such a great idea… I was holding out hope that space might become a great, active pedestrian space, filled with tables, chairs, and people eating, drinking, and talking (especially with rumors that the building’s owners wanted to do ground floor retail).

    Doesn’t a big, metal, not particularly attractive (IMHO) sculpture sitting in the middle of all that space work against that somewhat? Can someone with some photoshop skills drop a photo of the memorial into a photo of the square and let’s see how it looks?

  • I’m going to guess that it all comes down to funding. You’re right–the space lends itself perfectly for a vibrant public square. But the war memorial gets funding from outside sources, and pedestrian spaces don’t.

  • I saw some of the designs for the war memorial being placed in the plaza (I don’t know that they are available online anywhere). I don’t know which they went with and some lent themselves to being passive public spaces more than others.

    What concerns me more a little bit is that we’re redesigning the square before the redesign of the traffic system in the square. There is in redesigning the roadways a chance to change and maybe enlarge the plaza.

    I’m hoping to be able to make the DRC meeting and see what’s what.