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Reinventing Providence’s City Center

KP designs april 2013More than 400 people gathered at the Providence Biltmore on Thursday, April 18th to learn about Providence’s next big transformational project. The city known for moving rivers and highways is now taking on another major effort: revitalizing Greater Kennedy Plaza. Cliff Wood, executive director of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy (DPPC), believes that every major city needs a place where people can congregate in one spot together. He said that we have a pass/fail opportunity to manage and maintain our city square–Kennedy Plaza–at a high level, and we need a public/private partnership to make that happen.

Over the past few years, with a small dedicated staff and a shoestring budget, the DPPC has attracted people into Kennedy Plaza with regular programming. The organization follows the principle of ‘the power of 10,’ espoused by international placemaking experts, the Project for Public Spaces.

Last year, the DPPC and the city of Providence received a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for programming and public space improvements. Local architecture firm, Union Studios, was hired to develop a master plan for the space including a central square, gateway, skating center, market square, and other defined areas. The DPPC will work with partners at RIPTA to reduce bus traffic while creating an intermodal center with better connections to the train station. The group’s vision is to create a pedestrian-friendly environment, encourage RIPTA ridership, bolster economic well-being, promote arts and culture, and encourage tourism. Read more about ways to support the project at

(Design by Union Studios, illustration by