Reclaiming Frontiers

Adaptive Reuse


Situated on an urban island in Downtown Providence, the triangular-shaped Avis Car Rental Center sits at a confluence of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. While the building sees a constant flux of passerbys, it is largely ignored due to its mundane function and being overshadowed by the looming Biltmore Hotel next door.

Extensive research revealed that the structure had once occupied a majority of the site’s perimeter in the early 20th century, as well as functioned as a Texaco gas station during the 1960s. The adaptive reuse of the Avis Car Rental Center, therefore, transforms the trivial building by recalling its former selves. A roof structure, almost double the size of the building’s footprint, was implemented to reclaim the boundary it once occupied. As reference to the mid-century gas station, two striking pylons pull at the roof structure and anchor it to the ground.

In order to promote more biking and safer passage into Downtown Providence, the area beneath the roof functions as a public space and thoroughfare for bikers and pedestrians where they can gather and seek respite from the hectic surrounding traffic. The monumentality and accessibility of the intervention positions the Avis Center as a welcoming gateway into Downtown Providence.