EXCLUSIVE: Leading RI Architect St.Florian Endorses Fane Tower

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


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St.Florian endorses Fane's tower

Arguably Rhode Island's most respected architect today announced in an interview with GoLocalProv that he is supporting the proposed 46-story development by New York Developer Jason Fane.

Friedrich St.Florian is the architect of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. He has done leading design work across the country and the world.

His drawings are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris.

St.Florian’s endorsement is a major boost to New York Developer Jason Fane’s proposed 46-story tower.

"Well, as I’m going to testify tonight, as I told Mr. Fane — when I was asked if I’m in favor of it, I said I I believe in it very much — it’s the location I like so very much. Tonight I’ve got a statement that will clarify why I like the location," said St.Florian in an interview with GoLocal.

"The tower should make a statement — making a statement means having a presence — presence in a city is often height.  The height that the tower will be will be the right height. The industrial tower — Superman — is over 400 feet, and when it was built in 1928, it was the second tallest in New England. Today it’s still the tallest in Rhode Island. It’s like when the Red Sox hadn’t won in 86 years — it’s time," said St.Florian. 

"I’ll be straight — Mr. Fane is on the record wanting an iconic building — that resonated with me.  I met with Will Morgan, and we talked about “what’s an iconic building.” He said, can you think of an iconic building built in the last five years? I had a hard time. I said if I think of one — it’s the Chrysler, the Hancock — which I think is among the most beautiful in modern architecture -- they're not in the last five years, he added.

St.Florian has won numerous awards for his architectural work. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. In 2006 Brown University bestowed upon him the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

"So I thought hard — the now tallest building in Europe, in London, by Renzo Piano — is probably an iconic building. What makes them iconic?  They’re timeless — the Chrysler after decades — everyone thinks it’s beautiful. It’s not brutalist, post-modern [architecture] that people disassociate themselves with," said St.Florian.

Today I met with Mr. Fane. He said, the designs that he presented, he likes the idea of a sculptural tower. But he’s not married to this particular design.  He said there’s room for change.  I’ll let the critics have their say. I’m aware that architecture is public art — everyone has an opinion.  You can ask the cleaning person and you’ll hear exactly what’s wrong with it," added St.Florian.

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Revised design to Fane's Tower

Fane’s Proposal

The proposed project is now being considered by the City of Providence's City Plan Commission with a critical hearing on Tuesday afternoon. The proposed tower would be the most significant private investment in Providence in decades.

“It is an organic form — slender and elegant. We see it as an expression of a new Providence. We looked at the context of the area. The Wexford building is modern and an expression of a new Providence,” said Ria, of the IBI Group in Toronto in a recent sit-down interview with GoLocalProv. “This building should have its own inspiration.”

Fane tells GoLocal that there have been "two" experiences in Providence. “We have gotten wonderful support from state leaders that has been very encouraging,” said Fane. But, on the negative, Fane said that the regulatory process is exhausting and too time-consuming.

As a result of the regulatory process, costs continue to increase and not to anyone’s benefit. 

“The cost of the project is between “$250 and $300 million,” said Fane. It was originally around $150 million.

The project is expected to be a mix of retail, apartments, and condos. Fane could not identify what the exact percentage would be set for each usage.

“We are in an innovative district and this is an innovative project,” said Fane.


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