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Coro Building

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1929, Frank S. Perry. 1947, addition. 1988–1989, renovated for offices. 167 Point St. and the block bounded by Hoppin, South, and Hospital sts.

From rudeness, return to suavity. The Coro Buildiing is another reinforced concrete structure supported on flared, mushroom-capped columns, but it represents the “standard” factory type that evolved out of the dawning technology of the A. T. Wall Plant ( PR37). Now the vertical piers clearly project as the primary structural entities. Spandrel spans are set back, the horizontal of the floor slab accentuated over the horizontal parapet capping above. The face of the parapet spandrel is sheathed in brick to differentiate it as an infill element subordinate to the primary structural frame. In the crisp, clean opposition of vertical against horizontal, the triangular elements designed to resist shear at the upper corners of the windows in the Wall factory are eliminated by concealed improvements in reinforcing. Whereas four traditional wooden windows once filled each of the voids, now a single metal unit, prefabricated for its purpose, suffices. (The present windows replace the original sash, and are both far more airtight and easier to clean than their predecessors; but the flatter profile of the metal grid that supports the glass diminishes the animation of the web of light and shadow across the sash. Seemingly inconsequential, this tendency to reduce and simplify profiles while enlarging the scale of parts in replacement components tends to lessen subtlety and animation, as here.)

The court of the initial U-plan building of 1929 opened south onto Point Street. It and the south front only were embellished with minimal Art Deco ornament, including a decorative stepped treatment of the roof parapet. The court was also planted with a lawn to provide the public entrance to the plant. Coro, unlike most of the enterprises in the area, meant its building to provide a corporate image in keeping with its position as one of the largest manufacturers of costume jewelry in the country. Eventually absorbed by another company, this plant was empty from 1979 until its conversion to office space in 1988–1989. It was then, when the original windows were removed prior to replacement, that one could revisit the time of its construction and see, through the empty rectangular voids, the orchards of mushroom columns inside. Then one could fully grasp the technological beauty of this factory type, outside and in.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.
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Citation

William H. Jordy et al., "Coro Building", [Providence, Rhode Island], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/RI-01-PR39.

Print Source

Buildings of Rhode Island, William H. Jordy, with Ronald J. Onorato and William McKenzie Woodward. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004, 58-59.

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