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Jonathan Bell, AIA

Architect & Professor

Rhode Island School of Design


Liliane Wong,  AIA


Rhode Island School of Design



Saving Superman is an endeavor to preserve the Industrial Trust Building, known in Providence as the Superman Building. Placed on the National Trust’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2019, RISD’s Department of Interior Architecture joined forces with Providence Preservation Society to explore the reuse of the Superman Building in the final semester of the MA in Adaptive Reuse Program.

Equipped with data, historical context, opinions, ideas, and optimism, seven students engaged in immersive research and met with city planners, development consultants, local business stakeholders, and technical experts to design speculations for one of Providence’s—and Rhode Island’s—most urgent architectural, economic development, and public image issues.

At the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Become familiar with conceptual adaptive re-use strategies for office building typologies in a post-pandemic environment, including a case study historic office skyscraper reprogrammed for housing, community development and urban agriculture uses.

  • Understand the innovative building technologies used in an historic 1928 skyscraper structure as case study for office building reuse considerations with systems.

  • Understand the significance of the National Trust for Historic Places, the Providence Preservation Society’s “Most Endangered Places” designation, and how these relate to local preservation organization advocacy and partnerships.

  • Understand the framework for contemporary, historic and future socio-economic context for revitalization in a mid-sized historic downtown and how this may apply to smaller and larger communities.


Saving Superman: Adaptive Re-use for Providence’s skyline

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