Life Science

Two Architecture Firms Selected for Brown’s Life Sciences Building

Providence, RI – Brown University has selected an architecture team to design its planned integrated life sciences building in Providence’s Jewelry District neighborhood.

Deborah Berke Partners, a New York City-based practice, and Ballinger, a Philadelphia-based team of architects, engineers, planners and designers, will work in partnership with the university. A vote by the Corporation of Brown University during its fall meetings in October approved the selection of the architecture team, marking an important next step toward realizing Brown’s long-held vision to create state-of-the art research space for the life sciences in proximity to its Warren Alpert Medical School, School of Public Health, School of Engineering and affiliated hospital partners.

Brown announced its plans for the building in June. University architect Craig Barton, who managed the selection process, said the committee members who recommended the two-firm design team were impressed with the firms’ portfolios as well as their shared focus on working together and with a wide range of stakeholders.

Both Deborah Berke Partners and Ballinger have extensive experience in working with academic institutions on complex, large-scale projects, and have also partnered individually with Brown. The project will not be the firms’ first collaboration – they are currently partnering on the design of a large environmentally sustainable science and engineering building at Yale University.

As envisioned, the integrated life sciences building will 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. Dr. Mukesh K. Jain, dean of medicine and biological sciences, said creating a new facility in the Jewelry District would provide much-needed space for existing research centers to grow and for new ones to flourish.

“It’s exciting to reach this next milestone for the integrated life sciences building,” Jain said. “Brown’s research community continues its robust growth, and this new facility will enable cutting-edge science that will ultimately lead to patient therapies and interventions.”

Because of the nature of how scientific research is conducted in laboratories, Barton said that the architects must think not only about the building’s initial occupants, but also those who will use it in the future. That forward-thinking flexibility is part of Ballinger’s approach, said Terry Steelman, senior principal at the firm and one of the leads on Brown’s ILSB project.

The ILSB must also be able to integrate into an evolving neighborhood like the Jewelry District, which has seen significant growth in activity in recent years as Brown and private developers have turned empty or abandoned spaces into new projects. That’s something Deborah Berke Partners excels at, said Noah Biklen, a Brown Class of 1997 graduate who will lead the ILSB project design team. Citing Brown’s pledge to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2040, Biklen said the firms will work closely with the university to design a highly sustainable science building.

With the selection of the architecture team, project leaders at Brown, Ballinger and Deborah Berke Partners will now launch 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. That process will convene both internal and external stakeholders. The university estimates construction completion in the range of four to five years.