Bay Center Improvements

Bay Center Improvements

by Katy Dorchies, director of communications and marketing

An aerial shot. In the foreground: A red crane parked in front of a long building lifts a large HVAC component off of a flatbed truck along the coast of Fields Point in Providence, R.I. In the background: A foggy pier extends into the waters off Fields Point.
In 2021, Save The Bay’s large chiller was replaced as part of an overall HVAC system upgrade.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Save The Bay’s normally bustling Bay Center was quieter than usual through 2020 and early 2021, with our programs and events transitioning to a virtual format, and our staff working from home. The lighter traffic, however, allowed our facilities team to make the most of a golden opportunity! 

Over the last year, the team tackled several long-awaited upgrades to the building and grounds, making sure that our Fields Point headquarters is ready to welcome back both staff and guests when we reopen to the public.

Keep reading to learn more about what we’ve been up to… 


One of the first improvements made early in the pandemic was the addition of videoconferencing equipment. By adding high-quality cameras, microphones, and screens, we converted our small conference room into a Zoom room, making us better equipped than ever to hold meetings with guests both in-person and remotely. 

A fresh coat

The Bay Center’s administration wing, foyer, conference rooms, bathrooms and hallways all received their first complete repainting since the building’s construction in 2005. The refreshing coat of paint has brightened our headquarters, making it an even more enjoyable place to learn, work and visit. 

Good things underfoot

Up until April 2021, the flooring throughout the Bay Center had been original to the site’s construction. In the 16 years that Save The Bay has been headquartered at the site, the flooring throughout our Bay Center has been subjected to foot traffic from hundreds of thousands of students, volunteers, rental guests, and staff. A generous donor contribution, paired with an in-kind donation from Ruggieri Carpet One, allowed us to completely replace the carpeting in our two main conference rooms, as well as in our gallery and reception area.

Where rubber meets road

Our Bay Center is built on a reclaimed brownfield site, which was capped prior to the construction of the building. While our parking lots and pathways were originally covered with crushed stone—a material that, on other sites, would allow stormwater to filter through the earth—the cap prevented stormwater from sinking into the earth properly, resulting in flooding, icing and gravel displacement. In early 2021, with a donation from Waterson Terminal Services, we resurfaced and paved our parking lots and pathways, and began the process of improving existing swales, effectively enhancing stormwater management on the site, reducing maintenance costs and increasing the accessibility of the lots and pathways. 

A breath of fresh air

When the Bay Center was first constructed, we installed as many green and energy-efficient systems as possible given the technology at the time. In 2020, more than a decade later, our HVAC system reached the end of its life, as technology had evolved and the parts needed for even preventative maintenance were no longer produced. With funding from the Champlin Foundation and an anonymous donor, we were able to make significant upgrades to our HVAC system over the last year, installing a new high-efficiency boiler, as well as a new chiller—both of which will enable ongoing functionality and ensure comfort and safety for staff and guests alike. 

While all of our facilities remain closed to the public at this time, we’re looking forward to showing off our latest improvements when we reopen!

*Please note:  Be sure to access the Johnson & Wales University Harborside Campus through the main entrance on Harborside Blvd. Your GPS may suggest taking Ernest Street to JWU’s Shipyard Street entrance, but that route requires a key card for entry.  

From Route I-95 North or South, take Exit 18 (Thurbers Avenue). Head downhill on Thurbers Avenue to US Route 1A (Allens Avenue). Turn right onto Allens Ave. Continue southbound on Allens Ave. into Cranston, where Allens Ave. becomes Narragansett Blvd. Turn left onto Harborside Blvd. at the traffic light by the Shell gas station. Follow Harborside Blvd. through the Johnson & Wales Harborside Campus. At the end of Harborside Blvd., turn right onto Save The Bay Drive. Save The Bay Drive becomes a circular, one-way roadway as you approach the Bay Center. Parking is available in four guest lots after you pass the main building. Enter the building through the main entrance.