Greater City Providence

Providence Public Library Planning Renovations

Proposed LED sign panels on the Providence Public Library facade

The Providence Public Library is planning a major renovation to their Empire Street building.

Providence Public Library (PPL) is planning to undertake the state’s largest-ever library renovation beginning later this year. The project will address required life safety systems upgrades, as well as make major infrastructure improvements to PPL’s downtown buildings. The approximately 85,000-square foot project will transform the Library’s 1950s wing, auditorium, and special collection areas to provide 21st-century library services for Providence and Rhode Island residents.

Read more about the PPL planned renovations on their website.

The proposed LED screens on the Empire Street facade of the building (shown rendered at the top of this post) is causing some sturm und drang among some preservationist and others. Providence Business News reports on the controversy. Personally, I kind of like the screens. I’m all about more light and signs downtown, especially proximate to LaSalle Square.

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.


  • Love it! Lets activate and light up an otherwise dreary dark city corner while enhancing this important downtown institution!

  • Great! Also that woman in the white dress and red/orange bag really gets around!

  • I love the LED lights on the outside, I think it gives the ’50s block some life. On the interior, the use of color, glass, and cantilevered walkways is inviting and comfortable.

    The PPL is a wonderful place, but its long outgrown the 1960s-1970s renovations. Whenever I’m there, I can feel the place straining. Being over a hundred years old, I’m sure the library has lots of books, paintings, and paraphanalia that we just don’t see because there’s no proper room left to display them.

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