Articles

“Developing an Eye for Design”

“Developing an Eye for Design”

Architects go beyond merely looking at the surface of a project to try and see through to the underlying issues.  These are skills that translate across many professions and areas of interest.  “Looking” is primarily the passive activity of gazing upon an object, but “seeing” is an active engagement that involves measuring proportion, studying detail, counting elements to ultimately understand the object more deeply, often through the act of drawing. More

Rosecliff and the Newport Flower Show

Rosecliff and the Newport Flower Show

Newport is famous for its grand buildings, many of which are both extravagant and unique.  Many of the grand mansions on Bellevue Aveunue in particular were created more fore entertaining than for living as some of these grand “summer cottages” were used for only 6-8 weeks each and were closed up the rest of the time.  Some of these properties have become part of the Preservation Society and continue to serve as showcases for design and architecture.  One such mansion that will be particularly in the spotlight this coming week is Rosecliff, which is the setting for the Newport Flower Show scheduled for June 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. More

A New Perspective on Public Space – “Streets and Sidewalks as Public Spaces”

A New Perspective on Public Space – “Streets and Sidewalks as Public Spaces”

When most people think about the subject of “Public Space” they will often immediately think of parks and public squares.  The recent debate about and subsequent renovation of Queen Anne Sqaure, shows how much attention and passion is wrapped up into theses places.  Parks like Touro Park, Queen Anne Square and Washington Sqaure serve as visual punctuation to the buildings which form the street wall and main body of the city.  But what about the streets and sidewalks? More

Washington Square

Washington Square


Newport has been many things over its lifetime: a Gilded Age resort, a post World War II Navy town, and today, an important destination for historic tourism. But at one time Newport was a small colonial village that was made prosperous by its excellent harbor and access to shipping and trade. At the heart of this colonial community were LongWharf, which represented the mercantile spine of the city, and Washington Square, which has the community’s civic hub.  Some of the most important Colonial-era buildings still exist Around Washington Square. These include Richard Munday’s Colony House (1739), which served as the part-time home of the Rhode Island legislature until the beginning of the 20th century, and Peter Harrison’s Brick Market (1772), which was the place that traders and seamen brought their goods to be sold and traded. More

The Value of Newport’s Historic Assets

The Value of Newport’s Historic Assets

Newport is a special place but sometimes it is easy for those who live here to forget just HOW special. In helping write the summary of the Washington Square Community Charrette report, based upon the Value Setting and Charrette process that more than three hundred people participated in last October, I was reminded how many National Register landmark assets are situated immediately around the park that was once the center of the Newport colonial settlement. More

Events Around Town

Events Around Town

This week was a busy one for architectural programming in Newport. On Wednesday March 6 at Rosecliff, a panel was convened to discuss the state of the Newport Historic Urban Plan initiative. John Tschirch served as moderator and four of the project’s scholarly participants were on hand to talk about their discoveries and perspective now that they are twelve months into the project. Christina Connett, a professor or cartography at RISD, has been engaged as the Lead Scholar. More

Tennis History Lives on in Newport

Tennis History Lives on in Newport

Everyone knows that Rhode Island is the smallest sate in the union in terms of size but in the world of tennis we have historically stood very tall indeed.  Newport, Rhode Island is the site of one of the oldest existing tennis clubs in the United States: the Newport Casino, located on Bellevue Avenue.  Designed by the firm McKim, Mead & White, this building was the very first structure completed by the firm after they hired the young creative Stanford White to become their designer in 1879. More

Louis Kahn/ “My Architect”

Louis Kahn/ “My Architect”

Newport is blessed with many beautiful and important structures which were built between the mid-seventeenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.  There have even been some great additions to the architectural fabric of Newport in the last few decades but during the middle of the twentieth century, the quality of architecture created on Aquidneck Island was generally pretty poor.  To see the best examples of work that was being created in America during that period it is necessary to cross a bridge or two. More

“Planning for a Healthier City”

“Planning for a Healthier City”

In 2010 the City Council pledged to make Newport a “Complete Streets” community and this largely unheralded event has slowly been changing the way public projects are designed.  Complete Streets is a principle developed by the Smart Growth planning movement, and states that roadways and sidewalks should be designed with “all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation, vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.” This is a part of the larger Smart Growth goal to integrate housing, work and shopping into compact development areas that maxmize the efficiency of land use and minimize the amount of vehicular traffic needed to make the community function well. More

Urban Theatres

Urban Theatres

Once upon a time, to see a musical performance, a play or a movie, one had to convene with other people in a large building called a theatre. Now, with the rapid advance of technology, we can get our information and entertainment on televisions, computers, smart phones and even (like Dick Tracy) on wristwatches. But what we have gained in speed and convenience perhaps we have lost in a sense of community and shared purpose. In Washington Square in Newport, we have two grand buildings from the Golden Age of theatre —The Jane Pickens Theatre (JPT) and the Opera House. While these institutions have been greatly challenged by the changing nature of how Americans get the information and entertainment, both have been working hard to transform themselves into organizations that are relevant, important and connected to the way we live today (and will live in the future). More