Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training, Cranston, RI
Abandoned 20 years, reborn as a state complex both beautiful and efficient
Built in the 1890s as an almshouse and used later as a mental health hospital, this cluster of buildings had been abandoned for more than 20 years when the State of Rhode Island selected Goody Clancy to redevelop the site for use as an office complex for the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training. We preserved and renovated the five historic granite buildings on the 14-acre Center General site, giving it new life for the Information Age.
The goal of this project was to consolidate the department’s five divisions of administrative offices and support services (approximately 450 employees), as well as to develop a new conference and training center. The design work was preceded by an extensive programming phase in collaboration with representatives from each division.
We created a new public face for the government center with a meticulously restored exterior, projecting a positive image of the center as an attractive workplace. We repaired the slate roof, re-pointed the ashlar granite walls and replaced 1,100 broken or missing wooden windows.
- Four early Victorian and one 1920s building were renovated; one new building was constructed.
- The long, narrow buildings with multiple windows bring in natural light to the contemporary work stations.
- In the former supervisor's house (now the main administration building), we successfully reconstructed an all-but-destroyed wood staircase and handrails (using the one remaining baluster as a model) adapted to meet modern code requirements.
- The new building complements the older ones and is clad in brick with granite windows, reversing the pattern on the original buildings of a granite/fieldstone body with brick window surrounds. The new structure was sited carefully to define the two courtyards that have been restored using plants originally found on the site and preserving the still extant old maple trees. They now serve contemporary workers as a place of relaxation, accessible from the cafeteria.
- A commissioned work of art, the "Star Table" with scattered granite seats, commemorates the history of labor on the site. Just as the almshouse once helped the state's less fortunate in the move from farm to factory during the Industrial Revolution, so does the Department of Labor and Training assist Rhode Islanders find their place in the workforce of the Information Revolution.