In an economy of increasing scarcity, rehabilitation and reuse of historic fabric will become more and more necessary. SLICE is a novel and logical approach towards reinhabiting abandoned and undervalued urban properties. This design research project, inspired by a historic building in downtown Providence, was supported by a 2018 grant from the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation. The 84-page book is now on sale at Amazon. Download the PDF for free. Here is also a recorded presentation at Venture Cafe PVD.
SLICE is the recipient of two 2020 design awards from the Boston Society for Architecture and AIA Rhode Island.
In 1923 George C. Arnold built a three-story namesake building on a plot just 13 feet deep. After World War II, the buildings behind it were torn down for parking lots. The Arnold Building survived on its shallow stretch along Washington Street, appealing to businesses that needed high visibility and low rent. DUAL investigated the potential of this remnant of a fully-occupied block to conceptualize a new model of adaptive reuse.
In architecture, the facade suffers from its art-historical connotations as the site of aesthetic composition. Modernists positioned architecture as a three-dimensional, spatial art, and devalued the flat, pictorial nature of the facade. Our gloved handling of the facade springs from mistrust of the architectural billboard, but also ignores the facade’s potential as a vitrine. SLICE does not rely on the facade as a signifier, nor dismiss it as decoration. It treats the facade as a thick laminate of program: one SLICE of the city.
SLICE proposes an approach that synthesizes building code and circulation requirements, preservation standards, and spatial economy by pushing the logical extremes of incremental redevelopment. In an otherwise-vacant urban building, a strategically-placed partition separates and activates the public facade through vertically organized, shallow-floor plate adaptive reuse. DUAL’s plans design for an economical width that still allows comfortable, accessible circulation and use