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Building for the Future | Episode 27 Historic Architectural Elements

Standout Historical Features

There are many historical features that make the WaterFire Arts Center unique. When the building was owned by the US Rubber company it had different needs than it does today. Those needs demanded solutions that we no longer commonly see today. But those original provisions make the WFAC unique.

The WFAC has a great number of large windows. This allowed the maximum amount of natural sunlight to enter the building, and minimize the amount of electrical light needed to function in a time when electricity and electric lighting were much more expensive than today.

The large scrolling doors were tall enough to allow full-size locomotives to enter the space and unload cargoes of rubber, and deliver finished product out.

Perhaps the most striking individual element of the WaterFire Arts center is the massive gantry crane which freely rolls the length of the building. Although no longer wired for power, the crane and its subsystems are still mechanically sound and ideas have been presented about how to use it in art shows.

More to come

Doug and his partner on the project Virginia had so much to say about so many aspects of the building. It was impossible to fit it all into one episode! Stay tuned to learn more from these influential members of the project team.

Building for the future is supported by TRAC Builders. Learn more about TRAC and their construction management services by visiting

About the author

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I've worked at WaterFire Providence since 2003. For the first 9 years of my career, I worked in the Production Shop learning all of the details that go into the physical production of the event. In 2012 transitioned to the role of managing WaterFire's social media and web presence. I now head up WaterFire Providence's digital projects including, web, social, databases, and our physical IT infrastructure.

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