On Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 9am 111 students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and their faculty members arrive at 40 South Main Street, Woonsocket, RI to launch a week-long design competition. Students will break into 12 teams and compete to design an outdoor theater space on the loading dock between two segments of the former Woonsocket Rubber Company /Falls Yarn Mill complex located at 68 South Main Street. The winning design will be used to inform a grant application to ultimately build the “Millrace Theater.”
This project is part of NWBRV’s ongoing creative placemaking work in the region. Known for its development of affordable housing, NWBRV also strives to build safe, healthy, and exciting places for people to live, work, and play. That is just what we aim for in the pending development of both 15 Island Place and 68 South Main Street. With the overall revitalization project intended to create a highly visible and vibrant gateway to the City’s center that celebrates the history of the community, the mills, the river, and the millrace. The soon to be revitalized area is envisioned as a cultural magnet with housing, commercial, community, and arts spaces. Building from the recently developed 40 South Main Street into 6 affordable homes, a public patio, commercial incubator kitchen, and event space, further development will focus on spaces for artists to live and work, including the Millrace Theater, and on encouraging water based activities along the river, in addition to more affordable housing units and 50,000 square feet of commercial space in the three remaining vacant mill buildings owned by NWBRV.
The Millrace Theater is a key part of the redevelopment project. It provides a common space for the community to come together informally and to easily share in the experience of performing arts. The future site of the Millrace Theater, 68 South Main Street, sits at the location of the former Woonsocket Rubber Company Mill. The Millrace Theater design is intended to communicate the renewed life of the district, even when performances are not in session.
To ensure that students are well-prepared to design a theater in line with Woonsocket’s history, culture, and the needs of artists, students will meet with the following experts on Thursday 10/19 from 9am-10:45am at 40 South Main Street:
- Kathy Dorgan, Placemaking Architect
- John O’Hearne, Architect for 15 Island Place and 68 South Main Street Projects
- Daryl Black Eagle Jamieson, Woonsocket Resident and Native Drum Performer
- Gladys Cole, Youth Theater Director
- Rui Almeida and Jarret Katz, Woonsocket Planning Department
- Carrie Zaslow, Local Initiative Support Corporation and Creative Placemaking Funder
- Adam Brunetti, owner of local production company
- RiverzEdge Arts, Woonsocket’s Youth Arts Entrepreneurship Organization
While in Woonsocket, the students will hear a brief presentation and then rotate between tours of the loading dock and district, and time spent speaking with the experts in the room about their recommendations and insights. During the tours, Daryl Black Eagle Jamieson will be playing his drum on the loading dock to offer the students a sense of the current acoustics.
On Wednesday, 10/18, the students will also meet with Jeffrey Emidy of the state’s Preservation Society as well as other RISD professors with expertise in production, sound, textiles, and lighting.
This project is part of RISD’s INTAR Department annual “Charette” defined as “the intense final effort made by architectural students to complete their solutions to a given architectural problem in an allotted time.” According to Elizabeth Debs, faculty member and Charette organizer, “the Department Charette is an opportunity for students in the Department of Interior Architecture to experience the brief and intense design problem, a common occurrence in the professional setting where firms are often asked to submit designs for a commission within a short time frame. These design problems require quick thinking, cohesive teamwork and the ability to present ideas that convey design intent.”
The community is invited to participate during the voting process at 169 Weybosset St., Providence, RI on Tuesday 10/24 from 10am-11:45am.
The top three voted designs will be on display at the Millrace Gallery at 40 South Main Street from 11/8-11/15 with an Opening Reception on 11/9 from 6:30-8:30. Admission is free and open to the public.