In downtown Providence, Rhode Island there is a large and prominent plot of land that sits on the bank of the Woonasquatucket River. In 1838, it was the home of the the Rhode Island State Prison. Later, the land housed the Continuing Education campus for the University of Rhode Island. After that came the dirt parking lot of Ray’s Park & Lock.
In a grand effort to revitalize the city, the Providence Place Mall was opened in 1999. The mall cost 500 million dollars to build, and was considered a “super regional,” meaning a one-stop shopping destination that housed everything consumers could possible want or need in one location.
Artist Michael Townsend lived nearby when the mall was going up. At first, Townsend had an open mind about the project. He was cautiously optimistic that it could bring more people and business to the neighborhood.
Townsend’s daily running route took him past the construction site, and he watched as the building slowly took shape. There was one particular part of the building that kept catching his eye. Amidst all the bustle of construction, there seemed to be a spot where nothing was going on.