Union Studio led the design team for the re-envisioning of Providence’s Greater Kennedy Plaza, a central square in the City’s downtown that serves as RIPTA’s passenger bus terminal. In addition to the bus station, the extended plaza area is home to Burnside Park and the Bank of America Skating Center. Though Kennedy Plaza visitors enjoy activities hosted by the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, the physical space is largely disjointed and dominated by bus traffic. The City of Providence received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to re-envision Kennedy Plaza as a vibrant urban space. Multiple stakeholders including Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, RIPTA, The Providence Foundation, Cornish Associates, and others worked together to create realistic short and long term solutions.
The design team also included Project for Public Spaces, Birchwood Design Group, and VHB. Together, we explored design solutions that would transform Kennedy Plaza into a vibrant urban plaza – a public space that attracts visitors into the urban core while providing safe and pleasant access to public transportation and recreational activities. There are several bold moves incorporated into the overall design proposal, the most significant of which is decentralizing the bus berths so that the heart of the plaza can be opened to other uses with increased emphasis on pedestrians. The team worked to unify the plaza by altering the traffic pattern, proposing strategic grade changes, and improving physical and visual linkages. Nine “destinations” are defined in the plan, which help logically separate the purposes of each area while overlapping aspects of activities and programming.