A gateway welcoming project? Yes. Support for the current proposal? No.

Posted 12/6/21

To the editor:The concept of an arrival Gateway to the Town of Warren, as drivers travel east on 114 from Barrington, has been around for some time. Last week’s feature article in the Warren …

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A gateway welcoming project? Yes. Support for the current proposal? No.

Posted

To the editor:

The concept of an arrival Gateway to the Town of Warren, as drivers travel east on 114 from Barrington, has been around for some time. Last week’s feature article in the Warren Times brought to light many new details and complicated financial issues that are currently being negotiated between the Town and a potential developer.

Although there are a myriad of very significant issues that must be resolved, they will be of little consequence if the design of the project does not meet Warren residents’ expectations. It is the intent of this letter to focus on a single issue, the architectural design, as it was submitted to Town Counsel at last week’s meeting, and the significant implications it will have on changing the original welcoming concept.

The architectural challenge of a Welcoming Gateway building is to greet those arriving to our town, or to those who may just be passing through. It should matter not whether they have been here before or are first time visitors. The objectives should be the same: what a nice town to visit, shop in, start a business or retire to. These feelings of warmth, trust, friendship and comfortability, are communicated by evidence of past town accomplishments and indications of the industrial, economic, agricultural and social stages that the town has gone through. It is not a complicated architectural challenge to integrate hints of these town successes into a building’s design.

Building scale is high priority. The lower the buildings height, the friendlier it will appear to visitors. Also, the use of similar materials to the buildings neighbors shows the towns concerns for overall architectural compatibility and respect for existing historic structures.

With these suggested evaluation guidelines in mind, let’s look at the developer’s submitted design.

Is the building at a height of 55 feet, in scale with visitors arriving by auto, bike or by foot, who may be looking for a gateway, welcome closer to eye level?

Are the architectural elements that make up the exterior of the building in scale with the concept of a gateway welcome creating a relaxing and friendly feeling?

Are the materials used on the exterior of the building compatible and respectful of the building’s historic neighbors?

Does the building’s design give any indication to the town’s past social and economic successes?

The current proposal is to raise a high percentage of the site by 9 to 10 feet adjacent to Rt. 114 and the public sidewalk, allowing for additional required parking in a covered garage for the proposed hotel. Does such an elevation change between the sidewalk and the site affect the welcoming nature of the property?

I was originally in favor of a gateway project on this site and in fact I’m still in favor of the concept, but not this project.
The Warren Times article of Nov. 10 has now brought to our attention that the current developer’s proposal has potentially turned into a 10-to-12-million-dollar developers mega-for-profit project.

My support of the original concept was based on the dream that our town was eager to indicate to both neighboring towns and travelers that we as a community recognized our responsibility to both preserve and best utilize a very rare property in a unique location.

I will not support the current proposal before Town Council because it lacks any of these goals. The only good news that I can report is that currently there is No Signed Agreement between the town and any potential developer.

Andrew B. Shapiro
Master Architect Emeritus
Touissett, Warren

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Media Group team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaymediagroup.com.