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One of the best mannered buildings in the city, William T. Aldrich’s well designed seven-story, Georgian Revival Eliza G. Radeke Building presents a welcome presence on this small-scaled block of Benefit Street, thanks to the one-story entrance pavilion that lines most of the west side of the block between Waterman and College Streets. Aldrich took his cues from neighboring buildings at a time when such an attitude was the only one imaginable in small-scale, historical residential neighborhoods, especially in provincial cities like Providence. But the fine presence on the street is only a prelude to the riches within. RISD’s museum is one of the country’s finest, with nationally significant collections of American decorative arts, French Impressionist painting, and, sadly not much on display, a fabulous costume and textile collection, especially important educationally for a museum at one of the country’s foremost training centers for apparel design. Adjoining the Radeke building to the north is the Farago Wing (1992; Tony Atkin), built to provide temporary exhibition space especially for large-scale works of art; the Farago Wing equivocates between modernist building as object (at a time when that concept was beginning to seem dated) and contextual statement.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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© 2024 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.