LLB wins a Rhody Award for the Design Exchange

October 19, 2012- The conversion of an old Pawtucket factory into a modern studio and office building known as the Design Exchange is one of a dozen projects and people that were honored at the annual Rhode Island Preservation Celebration on October 18 which took place at Rosecliff in Newport, RI.

Each year, Preserve Rhode Island (the statewide non-profit organization) and the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission (the state historic preservation office) present the Rhody Awards to celebrate historic preservation in Rhode Island. The Rhody Awards honor contributions to historic preservation by individuals, groups, and projects.

Lerner Ladds Bartels Architects won a Preservation Project Award for their conversion of the R.I. Cardboard Company, a handsome rehabilitation of this downtown Pawtucket landmark.

When LLB Architects began to look for new office space a few years ago, they found that Pawtucket had a solid reputation for supporting arts-related organizations, several of which had located in and around the downtown area. The historic Rhode Island Cardboard Company, first built in 1880, not only would provide the firm with a distinctive space in a blossoming arts district but also would showcase its work in adaptive reuse of historic buildings.

On this project, LLB Architects served as both designer and developer, making use of a combination of state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits. Together with Case Construction and Odeh Engineers, they oversaw a sensitive restoration of the exterior with "creative modern additions" on the interior and at the principal entrance.

The mill's 5,000-square-foot floor plates and eight-foot column grids were readily converted into an open, collaborative environment for LLB's new studio on the fourth floor. By locating the elevator, central stair, and restrooms in the center core of the building, the entire perimeter remains open and flexible.

Renamed the Design Exchange, the building has attracted a variety of new arts-related businesses as tenants. The completed project both retains the historic industrial character of this riverside and invests a new artistic presence and energy into central Pawtucket.

The winners of the 2012 Rhody Awards were:

  • Antoinette F. Downing Volunteer Service Award: Jamestown Historical Society for preserving and interpreting local history for more than a century.
  • Frederick C. Williamson Professional Leadership Award: Eric Hertfelder of Bristol in recognition of his career leading state and federal preservation agencies, as well as important historic sites like Blithewold and Fort Adams.
  • Homeowner Award: Linda Steere for her thoughtful renovation of the Esten-Bowen House (ca. 1800), a property restored by her grandmother 70 years ago in rural Burrillville.
  • Landscape Preservation Award: Aquidneck Island Land Trust for the Scenic Ocean Drive Project in Newport that buried unsightly utility lines and restored the picturesque views along one of the nation’s earliest landscaped routes.
  • Stewardship Award: Blithewold Mansions, Gardens and Arboretum of Bristol for the far-reaching Master Plan, a document that provides a platform for programming and historic site interpretation to meet the most advanced standards in property care.
  • Project Award: Brown Unversity in Providence for restoring the historic Transit Roomat Ladd Observatory (1890-91) and for making the facility available to both academic researchers and amateur star-gazers.
  • Project Award: Providence Revolving Fund which developed an innovative financing plan and restored the George Wilkinson House (1890) in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood.
  • Project Award: The House of Hope Community Development Corporation which provided new homes to formerly homeless individuals by rehabilitating the Thomas Wilbur Homestead (ca. 1800) and George Galen Wheeler House (ca. 1906), both in Warwick.
  • Project Award: Lerner Ladds Bartels Architects for rehabilitating the Rhode Island Cardboard Company mill (1880) for their own studio and other arts-related businesses in Pawtucket.
  • Project Award: Marek Zamojski for completing the conversion of the historic Rockville Mill complex (1844) in Hopkinton into affordable rental apartments.
  • Project Award: Friends of Sakonnet Light for the effort to refurbish Sakonnet Light (1882-84) on a rocky outcrop offshore, between hurricane season and winter, within a tight budget.
  • Project Award: The University of Rhode Island for the restoration of Edwards Hall and its Depression-era murals by Rhode Island artist Gino Conti.
  • Via news stories in The Valley Breeze and Providence Business News.