The Steel Yard

The Steel Yard is located along the Woonasquatucket River in Olneyville, a blighted neighborhood of Providence, R.I. The site, formerly the Providence Steel and Iron Complex, was purchased in 2001 by Nick Bauta and Clay Rockefeller who turned it into a non-profit that offers arts and technical training programs designed to increase opportunities for cultural and artistic expression, career-oriented training and small-business incubation. The Steel Yard’s work is made possible through program-related earned income, private and government grants, corporate giving and individual philanthropy.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Klopfer Martin Design Group, which won an Honor Award in the Washington, D.C.-based American Society of Landscape Architects’ 2011 Professional Awards for The Steel Yard, was charged with improving the site’s functionality while retaining the ecological and visual character of the “urban wild.” A primary central space fashioned as a multicolored paved “carpet”—allows for individual and group work, staging of large events, farmers markets and more. Secondary workspaces include interior/ exterior spill-out shop areas, an outdoor foundry, a “hang-out” area for movie nights and relaxation, and a future visiting artist’s studio. Tertiary service spaces include storage for raw materials and finished art pieces, a paved area serving incubator businesses and artists in shipping-container studios, and 20 parking spaces.

PHOTOS: Christian Phillips Photography and Klopfer Martin Design Group

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