University News

U. nears fundraising goal for engineering building

Total funds raised must reach $80 million before the U. finalizes plans for the new building

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Though the new building will not be constructed in the Jewelry District, it is unclear where on College Hill the new facility will be located, given space limitations.

The University is about $15 million away from the funding threshold required before it can select an architect and a site for a new College Hill engineering building, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15.

Administrators decided in the spring that the new engineering building will be constructed somewhere near Barus and Holley rather than in the Jewelry District — an option the University initially considered — so it would be connected to the rest of the campus, The Herald reported at the time.

But its precise location on the Hill has not yet been determined, Schlissel said, adding that the current campus layout cannot accommodate the new building.

Schlissel said the University has raised about $65 million for the new space. Before it can solidify details about the new building, the University must raise $80 million of the total $160 million goal established in its campaign to expand engineering.

A Corporation guideline suggests the University should be halfway toward its fundraising goal before hiring an architect and should have raised 90 percent of the funds before breaking ground, Schlissel said.

“The University hasn’t always followed that rule, but I think it’s an important practice to follow in a difficult budget year,” he said.

At a recent forum sponsored by the University Resources Committee, Schlissel said the University budget deficit remains a major concern in planning new programs and projects.

The University aims to reach the $80 million mark by the end of the calendar year, Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 said in April.

Schlissel said he is optimistic the University will achieve that goal but that it “is not a certainty.”

The expansion will provide the School of Engineering with 100,000 additional square feet, Carey said in April.

Both Schlissel and Dean of Engineering Larry Larson said there is not space within the current layout of College Hill for a project of this size. To make a new building fit, Schlissel said, the University would either have to “move other structures” or convert a space such as a parking lot.

Larson said Boston-based planning and design firm Sasaki Associates, which the University worked with throughout the strategic planning process, is assessing “many potential options” for opening up space. The company is in the process of making a recommendation about where to build the new engineering facilities, he added.

Sasaki Associates could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.

The goal is to arrive at a plan that “allows engineering to expand and become more successful that does so within our financial means … and with the least disruption possible to existing programs and spaces around the campus,” Schlissel said.

In April, students voiced support for the University’s decision to build new engineering facilities on College Hill instead of the Jewelry District, and that backing has remained steady.

It is “important to have the engineering department in a central location,” said Rebecca Pinals ’16.

Tyler Smith ’16 said a new building in the Jewelry District would be inconvenient for students. But he said he hopes the planned expansion in the vicinity of Barus and Holley takes place without “trampling” any historic, long-standing buildings nearby.

Marisa Quinn, executive vice president for public affairs and University relations, said in April that any new construction near Hope Street would mind the community’s historic roots, The Herald previously reported.


  1. TheRationale says:

    Can this be a non-ugly engineering building? Heck, can it look nice on the outside? Buildings like Barus and Holley and the SciLi are eye sores. Does it have to be Sayles? No. But a little bit of style goes a long way for campus pride. It’s nice to feel that you’re part of Brown, not some chunk awkwardly added on.

  2. Where to site the building? How about that big parking lot right next to Barus & Holley. It’s the only big, expendable space in the area

  3. Daniel Moraff Daniel Moraff says:

    Does this make the fuss about the $4.3 million deficit seem kind of stupid, or is it just me

    • In what sense

      • Daniel Moraff Daniel Moraff says:

        In the sense of admins/the BDH talking about the (very minor) operating deficit as if it significantly constrains what Brown can and cannot do building-wise or aid-wise. Just another silly non-sequitur for admins who pretend they don’t have the power to fulfill student demands.

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