I-195 panel approves BankRI conceptual design

THE I-195 REDEVELOPMENT District Commission on Wednesday moved forward with a conceptual design for the new BankRI headquarters and apartment complex./ PBN screenshot

PROVIDENCE – The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a revised conceptual design for the new Bank Rhode Island headquarters and 95-unit mixed-income apartment complex.  

A partnership between D+P Real Estate Inc. and Truth Box Architects seek to develop what is known as “Parcel 8” and “Parcel 8A” at the intersection of South Main and Pike streets into a 240,000-square-foot, six-story mixed-use building with an integrated parking garage. 

Initial feedback from the commission requested alterations to the massing of the structure to “give the impression of multiple smaller buildings with distinct material identities,” according to a memo by the commission’s consultant, Tim Love of Utile Architecture and Planning. 

The procedural vote on Wednesday came after the development team presented revisions to an Oct. 19 presentation. Commission members and public stakeholders expressed issues with the revised proposal, seeking greater material distinction between the office and residential portions.  

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Commission Secretary Barrett Bready questioned the shift to the all-brick facade on the residential tower in the latest iteration. 

Jordan Durham, of Truth Box Architects, said that decision was meant to create a more uniform concept in line with previous feedback which centered on the residential piece. 

“There are a lot of pieces of this matrix that we have to work through to make this project viable,” he said. “We still have work to do on the facade of the residential building.” 

In a Nov. 4 memo sent before the meeting Love told the commission that more work needed to be done regarding the choice of exterior materials before final approval.  

“The design review panel would like to see more differentiation between the low-rise and high-rise residential masses, in terms of materiality and relative visual weight,” he wrote. “As currently designed, the residential component looks like a large institutional building.”  

During the meeting, Love said the two camps had been working collaboratively to come to a compromise to ensure the final product does not look too “compressed.”  

Commission Vice President Marc Crisafulli thanked the development team for responding to the concerns raised in time for the Wednesday meeting but added that such a comprehensive shift in the design may have been rushed.  

“You have proven to be terrific partners and incredibly flexible. Sometimes to a fault,” he said, “I think you are going too far in the other direction.”   

In a follow-up conversation on Thursday, Durham said the revised submission was needed in time for Wednesday’s meeting, giving their architects only nine days to try and incorporate the feedback received on Oct. 19. They now plan additional changes to submit to the commission that will include a more fully developed and modified residential design. 

It was a very compressed timeline. We did not have time to get things just right. We made a lot of progress on the bank and office building, and the comments were well received,” he said.  

Durham said the reconfigured design will forgo the brick facade, and “bring more differentiation to the materials … so we are going to explore different material options and ideas to create more differentiation between the two masses.” 

The conceptual design approval does not bind the developer or the commission to any specific design, but merely continues the process. The commission approved a $3 million purchase and sale agreement with the development team on Oct. 19.  

“It is still going to go through a full design review,” said Crisafulli.  

Durham said they hope to achieve final approval in early 2023. 

“The basic idea of the project is good, and we are moving forward,” he said. 

The commission also approved conceptual design for the $165 million health lab proposal by Ancora L&G for an eight-story, 212,000-square-foot building at the corner of Richmond and Clifford streets, with tenancy planned for the R.I. Department of Health and Brown University. That approval included nine waivers rather than the three initially proposed by the developers. 

Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at Allen@PBN.com. 

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