GOAL OF THE GATEWAY
The Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce and the Ocean Community Chamber Foundation have a goal to create a memorable feature at the gateway to our community. It would announce the entrance to our community in a way which reinforces our local identity and generates a sense of place/sense of arrival. This visual delight should engage/spark the interest of those traveling along Route 1 and pleasantly interrupt what would otherwise be an “ordinary” drive through our 2-state/2-town community. Most visitors cross the bridge from one town/state to the next and have no idea that this is the location where 2 states blend harmoniously into one downtown joined at the border. This is our chance to influence the future impressions of Westerly, Rhode Island and Pawcatuck (Stonington) CT by merging art and architecture to create a distinctive, original landmark. This iconic statement piece/scheme would have high visibility on Route 1, the major corridor for commerce in the heart of a 2-state historic downtown. It would also serve as a stand-alone attraction that positively impacts tourism.
A synergy exists between the two towns and states. Traffic, commerce, volunteerism, and social services flow back and forth of both sides of the river. The gateway design must complement the historic downtown, while creating a scheme that embodies the symbiotic two-town/two-state, 1 community relationship. The landmark should capture the essence of our community and harness the energy and cohesion. It must create an engaging first impression for all who experience it. This original and attractive design should be a source of pride and beauty for local residents while providing a warm welcome for visitors.
GATEWAY EXAMPLES- In the North End of Providence, RI there is a classic arch with a pine cone in the center of it. In Willimantic, CT there is a bridge with 4 friendly frogs on the corner of it. In Thornton, Colorado there is an evocative bronze gateway sculpture. In each example, the gateway feature is iconic, memorable and it speaks to the identity and/or history of that particular community. They are well established and endearing landmarks.
Seattle has the space needle, St. Louis has the arch, Hollywood has the “Welcome to Hollywood” sign in the hills, Sydney has the opera house, Venice has the giant hands emerging from the river – these are all major cities with a dramatic architectural landmark. We are a small New England community and desire something noteworthy that is scaled/designed in the context of our charming environment, rich history, culture and growing arts scene.
The installation would be physically located at the place where the two towns (Stonington and Westerly) and two states (Connecticut and Rhode Island) are joined by the Pawcatuck River. There is a small bridge that spans the river and is flanked with lovely flower boxes on each side. (see oceanchamber.org for photos) There are small, well-manicured, Veterans Memorials on 2 sides of the bridge, and mixed use (commercial/residential) buildings on 2 sides. The gateway will be highly visible and cannot hinder the flow of traffic or limit vehicle size/height. It will be appreciated by:
Westerly is an established family vacation destination with millions of annual visitors coming to our shoreline beaches in Misquamicut and Watch Hill. Millions also head to neighboring Mystic, CT. We want to attract more attention to downtown Westerly-Pawcatuck! We envision this gateway being highly photographed in state travel guides and the ultimate “selfie” spot for visitors. This is a legacy piece—a gift to the next generation.
ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN
Downtown is evolving and has experienced a renaissance in the last 20 years. It celebrates its reputation as a growing arts scene. A recently installed historic mural program, Bricks and Murals, gives a nod to our past with high-quality, hand painted designs that have modern appeal. A large theatre, The United, is undergoing a major restoration and will soon launch a multi-million dollar capital campaign. The Knickerbocker continues to serve as a popular venue to showcase famous professional musicians and Blues performers. The Colonial Theatre, which produces Shakespeare in the Park, the Westerly Band and the internationally recognized 200 member Chorus of Westerly are time honored cultural institutions that continue to thrive. Monthly art openings take place at the Artists Cooperative Gallery and various artist studios simultaneously throughout the downtown on the first Friday of each month.
There are more than 55 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in downtown Westerly alone. Westerly, RI is world famous for its granite industry which began in 1846. The Westerly granite industry flourished after the civil war, when there was a large demand for monuments. There are many fine examples of granite structures downtown, and a granite museum at the Babcock Smith House.
Westerly, RI has a rich Italian heritage that began in the early 20th century when many Italians immigrated here from Sicily and Calabria. These skilled workers included designers, cutters, draftsmen and masons who were needed for the granite industry. They brought with them a tireless work ethic and the Italian family traditions of making things from hand which continue today- wine, gardening and the making of sopressata.
In 1902, the Westerly Automatic Telephone Company became the first fully-automated telephone exchange in the United States. No operator was required to make a call. This was a particularly important advancement to our two town/two state community where operators had previously been required to maintain communication with neighbors on each side of the river.
An inner-urban shoreline trolley system operated in this area from 1906-1922.
Pawcatuck,CT was known for its historic mills that were powered by the river and home to textile, ship building and the printing press industry. More than 240 commercial ships were built between 1681 and 1889 along the Pawcatuck River. Steamboats operated on the Pawcatuck River from 1882-1904 and provided day trips between Westerly, RI and New London, CT. The fishing/lobstering industry was also very active, and still is today, employing many families in Pawcatuck/Stonington.
The mill businesses no longer exist and Pawcatuck has lagged in re-inventing itself and capturing new industries to fill some of those large buildings. It recently underwent a major rezoning that was intended to spur investments in commercial properties that have remained empty and/or not maintained. We expect Pawcatuck to be much more attractive to developers and believe a dramatic transformation will take place over the next 5-10 years.
The Pawcatuck River had been a natural waterway for travel before the English settlers arrived in the 1600s. It was once renowned for its own species of Westerly salmon, and the town’s crest portrays the symbol of the three fish. The name “Pawcatuck” is derived from the Algonquin dialect spoken by the Pequot-Mohegans who resided near the river in colonial times. The names means “clear, open or shallow tidal river” in that dialect. Today, two large scale community events take place on the Pawcatuck River, with the bridge being the focal point: the Pawcatuck River Duck Race (20,000 rubber ducks) and River Glow (37 floating bonfires).
Many other large scale events take place very nearby in Wilcox Park, a 14 acre strolling Victorian Park affiliated with the Westerly Library. The park is host to Virtu Art Show, the Pops Concert, a folk festival and a Garden Market Fair.
In 1911, a rivalry began between the Westerly, RI “bulldogs” and the Stonington, CT “bears” high school football teams. It is among the oldest high school rivalries in the nation, and no two high school teams have played more games against each other. The teams used to play twice a year and now play annually on Thanksgiving Day. There is tremendous pride associated with these teams and the history of the rivalry.
Westerly-Pawcatuck has suffered its fair share of natural disasters. In 1938 the Great hurricane of 1938 hit our community and over 400 people died, while about 8,700 buildings were destroyed. In 2010, a great flood ravaged our downtown community, displaced many residents and downtown commerce was debilitated when the bridge was temporarily closed. In 2012 Westerly’s Misquamicut community suffered millions of dollars in damage from Superstorm Sandy. Over 600 homes and 29 businesses were affected, though thankfully, no lives were lost. In each of these examples, the two communities worked together to support one another, share resources and proudly recover. Our resilience is part Yankee stubbornness, but mostly a sincere capacity for caring for our neighbors.
WHO MAY SUBMIT DESIGNS: The Competition is open to architects, students of architecture, artists, recent graduates, and associated disciplines from around the United States.
The Ocean Community Chamber Foundation is proposing to seek input from the local municipalities, states, and key stakeholders to garner community input on selecting the winning scheme. The projects will be evaluated according to:
-the attractiveness of the design (we understand that beauty is in the eye of the beholder)
-the creativity of the design (be thoughtful, be brave, be whimsical or be sophisticated…but please, make us proud, get us to smile, take our breath away, or evoke a “wow” with your design).
-the design’s ability to convey the community image. You can draw your inspiration from many sources: Our architecture, history, the beauty of the river, our reputation as a shoreline community, our growing arts scene, the long-standing rivalry of the 2 town sports teams (Stonington Bears and Westerly Bulldogs), the town and/or state mottos, logos or symbols, our unique collaborative spirit and intertwined sense of community, or some other aspect that should be celebrated!
-the appropriateness of the design for our downtown. Just in case we need to state the obvious…We will not select anything we believe to be offensive, political, religious or scary.
Other considerations will be practicality from a maintenance standpoint, estimated cost to execute, and impact on the views of properties that face or are near the river, safety considerations, etc.
The competition is open to individuals or teams. We invite designers to submit visionary proposals to make this two-state entry passage memorable and welcoming. Participants are encouraged to explore the latest innovations in technologies in environmentally sustainable systems and architectural methods. We encourage the use of locally sourced materials where possible. Proposals must consider the attributes of light, color, materiality, and aesthetic quality that will add a sense of identity to the installation, eventually creating a landmark along the picturesque context of the Pawcatuck River.
Proposals must have an estimated cost outline and be mindful of the TOTAL project range implementation costs of $400,000-$500,000 max (design, engineering, permits and construction), as well as the engineering challenges and structural integrity limitations and/or requirements of the bridge. The bridge is expected to have major work done in approximately 6 years.
The design contest will be overseen by the Board of Directors of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce with input from elected officials, abutting property owners, philanthropists, artists, and key stakeholders. It may also include a community vote. There will be significant media coverage of the contest and the winning proposals will be publicly promoted, providing valuable exposure to the designers.
3 winning proposals and 3 honorable mentions will be selected. The Ocean Community Chamber Foundation will award a total of $3,500 US in prize money to competition winners as follows:
For designs submitted by a registered Architect or teams that include a member who is a registered Architect.
For designs submitted by students in high school or college.
Emailed designs sent with supporting materials to LKonicki@oceanchamber.org. All presentations should include:
At least one mounted image board, minimum size 11x17, showing the scheme in color context and in size context to the environment.
Additional Boards may include plans, sections and elevations as appropriate and may include 3D images, photographs.
A written statement of up to two pages outlining the inspiration, principles and rationale of the design proposal and including a detailed description of materials, lighting, construction technology and environmental factors relevant to the proposal.
DISCLAIMER: There is no guarantee that the winning design will ultimately result in a CT/RI gateway. This process starts with identifying the gateway design, then evolves into generating community support for that design, and culminates with securing the funding. Only then can we potentially proceed with implementation.
INFO: Further information on the competition, photos of the downtown project area, and information may be found at www.oceanchamber.org.
(example of the registration form is below)
RI/CT Gateway Project Registration
IN NO EVENT WILL THE CONTEST SPONSORS, THEIR LICENSEES, AND OR THEIR PARENTS, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES AND RELATED COMPANIES, THEIR ADVERTISING OR PROMOTION AGENCIES OR THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, EMPLOYEES, REPRESENTATIVES AND AGENTS, BE RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR LOSSES OF ANY KIND, INCLUDING DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES ARISING FROM ACCESS TO, OR USE OF, THIS WEB SITE, ELECTRONIC OR COMPUTER MALFUNCTIONS, OR ENTRANT PARTICIPATION IN THIS CONTEST, EVEN IF SPONSORS HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, EVERYTHING PROVIDED FOR THE CONTEST INCLUDING ANY SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.
By signing below, I agree to all of the terms and conditions listed above. I understand and accept the Rules as outlined in the RI/CT Gateway Project Contest.
Signature Print Name Date
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