The Steel Yard

27 Sims Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island

1. Please provide a brief overview of the project.

Goal: The design intent is to create a memorable and flexible place for this growing, arts-based non-profit that embodies their mission, engages the site's unique existing structures, utilizes the best sustainable practices possible within a constrained budget, and provides a public landscape to an underserved neighborhood of Providence.

Location: Providence RI. The Steel Yard is located in Olneyville, a blighted neighborhood of Providence characterized by abandoned and contaminated industrial lots like the project site, surface parking, and dilapidated housing stock along the Woonasquatucket River. While improving the site's functionality, a primary goal was to retain the ecological and visual character of 'urban wild' in keeping with the context and the site's abandoned-state beginnings.

Approximate Size: 3.5 Acres

Former Use: Steel fabrication for construction projects. Three industrial buildings exist on the site: One Sims Avenue, a twostory brick building, originally the office and fabrication facility (artist workspaces and a cafe); 27 Sims, a two-story brick office building (Steel Yard administrative and commercial rental spaces); and the Long Building, a repeatedly expanded corrugated metal and brick fabrication building (workshop space). Five sets of overhead gantry cranes, all of which are working and were incorporated into the project, allow steel to be moved anywhere on site, and give the site its unique character. The buildings and cranes were designated historic landmarks by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission, whose approval of the new landscape was also required.

Actual End Use: Required exterior spaces include a primary central space (fashioned as a multi-colored paved 'carpet') that allows for individual and group work, staging of large events with audiences of up to several hundred, car rallies, farmer's markets, etc., and whose character defines a sense of place. This is surrounded by secondary work spaces such as interior/exterior spill-out shop spaces, an outdoor foundry, a 'hang-out' space for movie nights and relaxation, and a future visiting artist's studio (each ~1000-2000 sf). Tertiary service spaces include storage for raw materials and finished art pieces, a paved space serving incubator businesses and artists in shipping container studios, and 20 parking spaces.

Completion Date: Sept 2009.

Klopfer Martin Design Group,
214 Cambridge Street, Boston, Massachusetts

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