Providence, RI – With approval to proceed with selecting an architect, Brown University has taken the first step toward realizing a long-held vision for a new integrated life sciences building in Providence’s Jewelry District neighborhood.
As envisioned, the facility would provide state-of-the-art laboratory space for researchers in biology, medicine, brain science, bioengineering, public health and other disciplines to work together on pressing health-related issues. A location in the Jewelry District would offer researchers the proximity to enable close collaboration with scientists and physicians at Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School, the School of Public Health, the School of Engineering and the university’s affiliated hospital partners.
A vote by the Committee on Budget and Finance of the Corporation of Brown University, the university’s governing body, at its meeting in May authorized the selection process to identify an architect for a new building. This launches an extensive programming phase to assess factors ranging from space needs and site requirements to conceptual design and projected scale and scope, as well as estimated project costs and funding sources.
Brown president, Christina H. Paxson, noted that the goal of new life sciences space in the Jewelry District dates back to Building on Distinction, a 10-year strategic plan launched in 2014, and the BrownTogether comprehensive fundraising campaign commenced a year later to advance support for the plan’s priorities. The approval to select an architect comes as Brown is simultaneously developing an operational plan to grow its overall research enterprise, building further on substantial forward momentum in research activity in recent years.
With the approval to select an architect, Brown will engage in a years-long process toward planning, locating, designing and building the new facility. Architect selection itself is expected to take three to six months. While a target timeline for the full project will emerge during the overall planning process, the university estimates construction completion in the range of four to five years.
The life sciences include many of the most space-intensive research programs across Brown. Life sciences units at Brown include 20 biology and clinical departments and more than a dozen research centers and institutes. Brown’s current primary research facilities include the Biomedical Center and Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences on College Hill, the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine at 70 Ship St. in the Jewelry District, and 121 South Main St., home to the School of Public Health. All are currently at or near maximum capacity, and some need significant investments for renovation and deferred maintenance.
“By fostering interdisciplinary research in the biological and life sciences and biomedical engineering to address major societal burdens ranging from aging and associated diseases – cancer and brain disorders – to infectious diseases like malaria, Brown scientists, physicians and scholars are at the leading edge of work toward new discoveries and solutions that impact lives here in Rhode Island and across the globe,” Paxson said. “Our goal is to advance that positive impact even further. As we begin planning for a major new facility in Providence that will enable integration across fields of expertise, we look forward to innovative life sciences breakthroughs for generations to come.”
Dr. Mukesh K. Jain, who joined the university as dean of medicine and biological sciences in March 2022, said, “The life sciences at Brown continue to grow at a robust rate, and it’s an incredibly exciting time to join this research community. A modern facility with the laboratory space, technology and infrastructure to translate cutting-edge science will enable Brown to implement a growth plan that supports research teams working on scales ranging from molecular-level science to biotechnology innovations, to the latest developments in patient therapies and interventions.”