Discarded shopping carts find new life as deck
handrails at Rising Sun Mills
Providence, RI–– Broken
and rusting shopping carts, discarded into the Woonasquatucket
River and left to pollute, have found new life, form and use as
material for handrails on an outdoor deck at Rising Sun Mills
that overlooks its former watery grave. The collaborative effort
to reclaim and recycle the carts was recently completed by The
Steelyard, the co-developers of the mixed-use project in Providence
— Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse (SBER) and The Armory
Revival Company — and a number of other local companies.
“This deck claims a unique
observation perspective of the Woonasquatucket River and it deserved
handrails that were conversation pieces all their own,”
stated Ethan Colaiace of Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse. “What
initially began as a simple idea to recycle the shopping carts
for this use, quickly gained momentum and evolved into a much
larger and more complicated construction task,” he added.
Two shopping carts were initially
dredged from the river using a primitive rope and hook system.
The process also netted a rusted bicycle frame which was “donated”
to three teenage boys who stopped to watch the removal project.
The Steelyard constructed a prototype design from these carts,
utilizing a variety of cleaning, cutting and welding operations,
while aware of the need for the handrails to satisfy construction
The shopping carts were cut into
flat panels and then welded to steel frames to create a cityscape
design. Negative space was left at the bottom of the rails to
allow the flowing river to be seen from the deck. The shopping
carts were then restored to their original appearance consisting
of a chrome finish and black painted steel. The design was inspired
by the adaptive re-use of the Rising Sun Mills project.
Shopping carts are among the
most common items found in and around the Woonasquatucket River.
“Persons looking for quick cash will collect scrap metal
in stolen shopping carts and then deliver the goods to the scrap
yard. Because the carts are not accepted themselves, they end
up being deposited in the river to become someone else’s
problem. In our re-claiming efforts, we pulled out carts that
were used in grocery stores closed more than ten years ago,”
Rising Sun Mills is a conversion
of a 130-year-old mill complex in downtown Providence. Upon completion,
it will combine a mixture of office space, loft apartments and
retail space in an urban setting overlooking the Woonasquatucket