Recent Posts

Building for the Future | Episode 27 Historic Architectural Elements / video

Standout Historical Features

There are many historical features that make the WaterFire Arts Center unique. When the building was owned by the US Rubber company it had different needs than it does today. Those needs demanded solutions that we no longer commonly see today. But those original provisions make the WFAC unique.

The WFAC has a great number of large windows. This allowed the maximum amount of natural sunlight to enter the building, and minimize  minimum amount of electrical light to function in a time when electricity and electric lighting were much more expensive than today.

The large scrolling doors were tall enough to allow full size locomotives to enter the space and unload cargoes of rubber, and deliver finished product out.

Perhaps the most striking individual element of the WaterFire Arts center is the massive gantry crane which freely rolls the length of the building. Although no longer wired for power, the crane and its subsystems are still mechanically sound and ideas have been presented about how to use it in artistic shows.

More to come

Doug and his partner on the project Virginia had so much to say about so many aspects of the building. It was impossible to fit it all into one episode! Stay tuned to learn more from these influential members of the project team.

Building for the future is supported by TRAC Builders. Learn more about TRAC and their construction management services by visiting

New Carpets, Happy Feet! / video

New Carpets, Happy Feet!

Well, happy people really! Check out this time lapse in which the WaterFire Arts Center gets its new carpets installed on its office floor. Designed to align with the event day dress code that we and our volunteers adhere to at WaterFire, the new carpets are done in black and red tiles which are easy to replace if damaged. There are even a couple of different patterns that highlight different rooms and their purposes!

Building for the Future is supported by TRAC builders. Visit to learn more about their construction management services.

Floored by the Cement Pour! / video


Floored by the Cement Pour!

Today the cement for the main hall of the WaterFire Arts Center was poured! It took all day and dozens of laborers, but the floor is complete! Truck after truck after truck brought loads of cement into the arts center parking lot, where it was pumped through the emergency doors and throughout the building! Beneath the floor are hundreds of feet of electrical conduit and access panels for the electrical system.

Building for the future is supported by TRAC Builders, LLC. To learn more about their contracting services, visit

Building for the Future Episode 26 | Electrical / video

Electrical Systems Make Us Glow!

Nothing can compare to our bonfires on the rivers of Providence. But our electrical systems make the WaterFire Arts Center a stunning place to be!

Supplementing our natural light, mandatory during the night, our lighting fixtures were chosen to be appropriate to the age and industrial history of our building. They are in two types, one type which hangs from the ceiling and projects downward and another type that bounces light off the ceiling before being directed down.

Diagonal Lamps

Diagonal Lamps

Those reflective lamps are the slender black units to the left.

More Than Just Lights!

In addition to lighting, the building is host to a wide range of electrical systems in some pretty surprising places.

  • Motorized locks and arms on inaccessible windows
  • The card readers and door locking systems
  • Water fountains
  • A/V equipment
  • AC and Heating
  • Fire sprinkler Valves
  • Digital signage
  • Event lighting ship-to-shore systems

The Man in Charge

We are happy to have had the opportunity to speak to Scott Collard, owner and operator of Collard Enterprises. We spoke with him during a tour of the building. He explained the systems he and his team put in place in the WaterFire Arts Center. If you are interested in Collard Enterprises Services, please or call 401-821-8601.

Building for the future is supported by TRAC Builders, LLC. To learn more about their contracting services, visit

Building for the Future | 360 Degree Tour! / video


360 Degree Tour!

Experience the WaterFire Arts Center the same way that we do! Volunteer Photographer Tom Lincoln shot these 360 degree videos of the our new arts center at the end of February. So much has changed since our last 360 degree tour!

360 Degrees of change

Keep your eyes peeled and your head on a swivel to experience every degree of change! Catch the new colors on the doors, the final primary colors that will be used to bring life to the building. See some of the new cabinetry that makes simple rooms into functional spaces. The variety of different spaces in the cubicle “pods” are each designed to reflect the special needs of each department.



Before and After, September to February / video

Before and After, September to February

It is amazing how much has changed in the months spanning from September to February! When volunteer photographer Elaine Fredrick made the first images in this collection, the windows were not fully installed! A lot has happened since then however. Sheetrock has covered the steel studs. Everything is beginning to look like it will when we move in!

Can you spot all of the changes?

A minute long video can’t show every change in the space from September until today. Here is a short list of changes that have occurred in the space since those photos were taken last year:

  • New windows are completely installed!
  • First floor wall studs installed!
  • Heating and cooling system installed!
  • Roof capped with final weatherproof materials!
  • Electrical, IT, and Water service are all installed!
  • Fireproof coating in workshop bays installed!
  • Kitchen, copy room, and office furniture are installed!
  • Staircase to the sky bridge are installed!
  • Paint on doors, oh, and doors!
  • Fire suppression system installed!
  • Bathroom tiles and counters spaces!
  • Exterior door awnings built!

So whats left?

With all of that accomplished already,  you might be asking yourself what is next to do at the WaterFire Arts Center? Some very exciting steps are coming up over the next couple of weeks, steps that lead us directly into our last phases of construction before we move in. Be on the lookout for the pouring of the main halls new concrete floor, the finish work competed in the cubicles and the office spaces, and the installation of carpets and lighting fixtures. We are getting so close to the finishing touches that take a space like our from being under construction to complete. Already, plans to negotiate the move in period are underway.

Care to get a sneak peak at the WaterFire Arts Center and lend us a helping hand?

Very soon we will begin the migration from our offices and storage spaces across the city of providence down into the WaterFire Arts Center. If you would like to see the WaterFire Arts Center give us a helping hand, we are looking for all of the support that we can get in moving our locations to the new space. To let us know that you are interested in more information about helping with our move, please email and be sure to include WFAC Move In in the subject line! Thank you!

Big Ass Fans Are Installed! / video


Big Ass Fans are Installed!

Following up on our earlier post, the Big Ass Fans have been installed! Big shout out to Madeline who made this great video about the final phases. The Big Ass Fans are huge. But it really takes a person standing next to them to really grasp their scale!

Keeping the Arts Center Cool…

and warm! It takes several systems in conjunction to properly heat and cool the Arts Center during temperature extremes. The fans are just one part. However, they serve an important role in keeping the large masses of air in our re purposed factory from becoming stagnant and from rows of differently heated air from forming. With the fans we can be certain that any temperature change we are trying to make is uniform throughout the space. That temperature change can be made by the two other systems in use to control the heat of the building. The central heating and cooling units, and the motorized window panels in our mostly glazed building.

More than Just Fans

Recirculating air from within the building, our heating and cooling system will bring temperatures out of the extremes and into the comfort zone. The giant scale ducting is not only functional, but is used to aesthetic effect throughout the space, and is a common feature to reclaimed industrial architecture. The motorized window panels will allow us to vent hot air generated by crowds or trucks, and will help us freshen up the building in the summer.

and if the fans aren’t enough to change things up…

we can always open our giant bay doors on the east side of the building to really get the air flowing!

Office Workspaces are Coming Together!

Office Workspaces are Coming Together!

Office Workspaces are Coming Together! The office workspaces at the art center are coming together! Finishing touches like the hanging task...

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Building for the Future Episode 23 | Interior Design and Color Design / video

Interior Design Goals

The interior of the WaterFire Arts Center is striking and bold! The colors and designs are chosen to align with the famous artist Piet Mondrian’s landmark quadrilateral paintings. The inspiration of his palette is carried throughout the buildings spaces and furnishings. Our building’s historic surfaces are unrestored but protected with a clear coat of finish. New interventions are pulled from these surfaces with bold color. Walls, large structural elements, and accents are colored with near primary reds, blues, yellows and rich black. This choice of finishes is powerful and direct, but also playful and invigorating. With a variety of uses for the space planned, the materials are also easy to maintain and replace throughout a busy lifetime.

WaterFire is ecstatic to be moving into such a vibrant space, and a huge part of that energy is delivered by Sarah Whiteley’s design. Sarah and her team at DBVW took WaterFire’s ideas and really made them come to life. You can learn more about DBVW at their website.

Building for the future is supported by TRAC Builders, LLC. To learn more about their contracting services, visit

Big Ass Fans! (And kitchen cabinets too!)

Big Ass Fans! (And kitchen cabinets too!)

Big Ass Fans?!? A pallet of Big Ass Fans for the ceiling arrived today! No, really, that is the brand name! Big Ass Fans have made a name for...

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