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Even historical-district zoning can’t protect a neighborhood from tragedies like this. Design-review committees admittedly can’t require high-quality architecture, and this house also reminds us that politics are unavoidably part of the process. Responsibility must ultimately rest with the owners, who commissioned the house, and with DLR Dimensions, the self-described “Architectural Designers & Consultants” who created the design. By using the center-entrance, symmetrical-façade theme found on its neighborhood and too much admired in popular taste (especially in this context), the house’s design both asserts itself as “traditional” or “contextual” and elicits the response, “What’s wrong with that?” So what is wrong? The material, details, proportion, and siting are all at odds with those of its neighbors. But what is ultimately disappointing here is the wan, trite mien with which it deflates the vigor and strength abounding on one of Providence’s finest residential streets.

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