Providence Convention Center Parking Garage

The garage is an integral part, and the first completed element of a new Convention Center Complex. The Complex serves as a gateway from interstate 95 to the downtown State Capitol area. It has a capacity of 1,680 parking spaces within an eight-level precast concrete structure. The garage is physically linked to the convention center and a hotel at grade, as well as at main exhibit hall and ballroom levels, allowing the parking structure to be part of the egress route from the convention center. The parking structure is sheathed in precast concrete panels using a sandblasted finish, and an exposed aggregate finish of rose colored granite. Special care has been given to the design of the joints, exterior lighting, banner supports, and other details, to give the building the scale, texture, and architectural character of the neighboring Complex and other buildings in the surrounding historic district.

Precast concrete was chosen for its ability to meet schedule, cost, and durability requirements. Aesthetically, it relates well to the downtown historic setting and is well integrated with the design of the convention center, hotel and the office tower to come. The precast color provides visual relief and a welcome lightness to the structure, that is still in keeping with the older granite or limestone buildings. Through commitment and attention to details, the structural precast achieves a quality of finish that rivals more costly architectural precast.

Because the site was previously a filled river basin, precast prestressed piles were the most logical and economic solution for the foundation system. While piles were being driven to an approximate depth of 75'-0" and pile caps poured, the manufacture of precast products was begun. After developing several mock-up panels at the plant, a final approved section was erected on the site. The manufacturing process afforded reliable consistency in erection tolerances, color and detailing.

Precast components were lifted into place by a 300-ton track crane and precast shear walls were used for a stair and two elevator cores. The parking decks were built with pre-topped, 28-inch deep, double tees. A combination of inverted tees, spandrels on precast columns, and seven-story wall columns were used to internally support the decks along with the shear walls.

The CADD capability of both the architect and the manufacturer allowed the building perimeter to tightly follow the curved plan of the site and permitted a service road to pass below the northwest edge. Once erected, the precast system readily accepted the lighting, sinage and traffic toppings that make the parking structure complete. From erection of the initial panel to project completion, the schedule goal of 90 days was met.

The building has provided the city with a functional and durable structure, and an attractive and contextual component of this prominent civic facility. Given the budget and schedule constraints, the use of precast/precast concrete was key to providing a project of such quality.

Project Details








Convention Center Authority


Desman Associates, Providence, RI


Harshall Contractors, Inc., Rumford, RI


8, 1,680 car

Structural Precast Elements:

• Piles
• Columns
• Pre-topped Double Tees (28" deep)
• Inverted Tees
• Shear Walls
• Spandrels
• Wall Columns (7-story)


sandblasted aggregate




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