The Design Exchange in Pawtucket recognized for 'outstanding' work

The Design Exchange in Pawtucket recognized for 'outstanding' work

The interior of The Design Exchange, a new collaborative work community, located at 161 Exchange Street in Pawtucket. (photo by Warren Jagger)

PROVIDENCE - Grow Smart Rhode Island recognized The Design Exchange in Pawtucket with an "Outstanding Smart Growth Projects" award at the 2015 Smart Growth Awards on May 21.

"Each year, passionate, creative, and resourceful Rhode Islanders show us the way to tap our state's full potential through projects, plans, and policies that play to Rhode Island's strengths and generate enduring economic benefits - both statewide and in specific neighborhoods," said Grow Smart Executive Director Scott Wolf.

The Design Exchange, a new collaborative work community at 161 Exchange St. in downtown Pawtucket, is located in a historic, four-story mill that was once part of the Rhode Island Cardboard Company complex. Constructed in 1880, the restored building is now occupied by eight creative businesses including graphic, industrial, and interior designers, photographers, textile designers, and engineers, vibrancy that has been drawing visitors and economic activity to Pawtucket's arts district, according to those behind it.

Lerner Ladds Bartels Architects, which also operates out of The Design Exchange, purchased the building in 2010 after a 10-year search for a space with an open floor plan, says principal Kathleen Bartels. Bartels and LLB Architects partner Christian Ladds developed and renovated the historic mill, which previously sat vacant for more than 30 years across from Tolman High School.

Bartels said that The Design Exchange shares a similar mission and philosophy with Grow Smart RI.

"While it is challenging, it is very rewarding to fix the broken environment and transform communities into great places to live and work," she said.

The Design Exchange's nomination to receive the recognition was submitted by the Pawtucket Foundation.

For more on The Design Exchange, visit For more on Grow Smart RI, visit