Reinventing a Vacant Brownfield into a Recreation Complex

A 20-acre piece of land along the Providence River waterfront was designated a Brownfield and required remediation under RIDEM regulations. Decades earlier, the site was home to various industries, including a shipyard. Johnson & Wales University had ambitious plans to revitalize the area, and as part of that effort, the University selected Woodard & Curran to create a master plan and provide design services to transform a vacant portion of the waterfront Brownfield into recreation facilities. In less than one year, Woodard & Curran planned, designed, and oversaw construction of the University’s 20-acre athletic complex.


The new athletic complex overlooking Narragansett Bay at JWU’s Harborside Campus includes three natural-grass fields for baseball, softball, soccer practice, and one state-of-the-art synthetic multi-purpose turf field as well as associated structures such as scoreboards a grandstand/press box, field lighting, and more. The firm designed the athletic fields with best practices in mind, like minimizing sun glare, NCAA compliance, accommodations for pedestrian and vehicle traffic, and integration with existing and future buildings and the Urban Coastal Greenway—a park and walking path that provides public access to the Bay.


Woodard & Curran incorporated an environmental soil capping system on the field to meet the requirements of RIDEM’s remediation regulations. All incoming soils to the site required environmental testing, and arsenic, being ubiquitous in Rhode Island, was present in all the nearby sources of infield mix. Woodard & Curran solved this problem by importing soil from Pennsylvania, and JWU can proudly boast that they have the only arsenic-free infields in the state. The firm also assisted with other challenges, such as approval of the master plan, public access requirements, construction in a velocity zone, and low-impact design requirements. By creating an intelligent vision for the project through a master plan that carefully integrates the University’s goals, JWU and Woodard & Curran were able to build a recreation complex that serves the entire community, improves student life, and connects the campus to the revitalized waterfront.

Areas of Focus


Community Development

Communities rely on an array of infrastructure. We partner with our clients to identify creative, multi-beneficial projects to improve resiliency and support growth.

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Woodard & Curran takes a comprehensive approach to environmental problem-solving. Understanding the regulatory, technical, and sustainability context of your project or program enables us to deliver cost-effective and outcome-oriented solutions.

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