Popularly known as the “Superman Building,” because of its resemblance to the iconic Daily Planet building in the television series, the Industrial Trust Building remains the tallest in Providence at 428 feet. Completed in 1927, it is a reminder of downtown’s interwar building boom. The financial industry took off in Providence and several banks and architectural gems were born during this period; though, the Industrial Trust Building is the most unique in the city’s skyline. At the time of its completion, it was the third tallest building in all of New England. The Industrial Trust Building was advertised as, “A Business Building for Building Business.”
The Art Deco exterior features frieze work depicting labor and culture and Gorham bronze doors guard both the Kennedy Plaza and Westminster Street entrances. A notable design element is the stepped massing, which derived from a New York City law that required tall buildings to be set back on themselves to allow light to pass to sidewalks below. This element is a prominent feature in other Art Deco skyscrapers like the Chrysler Building and The Empire State Building. The Industrial Trust Building predates both! When constructed, the interior was a site of grandeur and prosperity; the lobby maintained extravagant fresh flower arrangements daily. Throughout its history, the Industrial Trust Building was home to a series of financial institutions, most recently Bank of America. Today it serves as a reminder for the potential of growth in the energized downtown.