Thank you, Frank, and good morning!
On behalf of Brown University, I am delighted to be here as we cut the ribbon on this reinvented landmark.
This was one of the most complex development projects imaginable, involving many people from across numerous organizations, whose dedicated efforts brought us to this moment. We could not have done this without support from the State House—thank you, Governor Raimondo, Speaker Mattiello and Senate President Ruggiero—and our academic partners, represented here by RIC President Frank Sanchez and URI President David Dooley.
Of course, undertakings like this only succeed with the right planning, design and construction expertise. My thanks to Dick Galvin and his team from CV Properties, along with the talented teams at Wexford Science and Technology, and Gilbane.
And thanks to my wonderful colleagues at Brown – among them, Russell Carey, Barbara Chernow, John Luipold, and Marisa Quinn – whose thoughtful, diligent leadership helped shepherd this project to a win for the city and state.
In 1912, the P.E. Harding Construction Company set about to construct a new power station for Providence, on contract from the Narragansett Electric Lighting Company. There was, at the time, interest in erecting a structure that would “…get away from the usual power-house design”, according to an article in the Providence Board of Trade Journal.
With that in mind, the engineers chose to incorporate Classical Revival details in the building design – high-arched windows, brick piers, granite and limestone trim, including keystones and pilasters with Doric capitals. As power stations went, this one raised the bar, projecting an image of “solidity” to the public.
A century later, in 2012, the image was not one of solidity and power, but of dereliction and failure. Still, even in its run-down state, the bones and design of the building were breathtaking. I recall having dinner at Bacaro in 2012, not long after I moved to this city, and looking at the shuttered “Dynamo House” from across the river—and thinking that it represented an incredible opportunity for the city.
What I could not have known right then was how significant it would soon become – in the planning of Brown University’s future, and in the ongoing revitalization of our beautiful city.
Looking back, when Brown signed on as an anchor tenant to South Street Landing, we saw an opportunity to accomplish three goals, each aligned with our academic mission.
First, we aimed to free up space on College Hill for undergraduate-focused teaching and research activities, while allowing the University to maintain an intimate, walkable space for the academic life of students and faculty.
Second, we wanted to create a collaborative new work environment that would bring together 11 administrative departments and deepen their connection and cooperation, as well as deepen our collaboration with URI and RIC on medical education.
And third, we were keen to extend our commitment to catalyzing economic growth in the Jewelry District – by drawing a vibrant community of students and professionals to the neighborhood, generating academic and entrepreneurial collaboration, and driving more businesses and jobs.
Today, South Street Landing stands as a cornerstone of civic enterprise and purpose. It not only, once again, projects the image of “solidity” to the public. It invites citizens to enter its doors and explore its marvelous spaces and historical details. It engages students, employees, and residents in their studies and working lives.
And it adds a measure of architectural soul to our city, a new focal point for education, innovation and conversation.
Brown University is very proud to be an anchor tenant in this magnificent facility. And we are equally proud to have been a part of the exceptional private-public partnership that made South Street Landing possible, and restored this building’s important role in the life of the city.
Back in the day, when the turbines housed in the South Street Power Station electrified the trolleys, industries, and homes of Providence, this building was the beating heart of progress in the early 20th century – iconic in its function and centrality.
The new South Street Landing flips the script on this idea. The building has been reborn as a spectacular 21st century facility for three Rhode Island educational institutions, and as a catalyst for future economic development.
It remains the beating heart of progress, but of a different kind: generating ideas, pushing the boundaries of knowledge and strengthening community.
Well done, everyone.