University News

School of Engineering to erect new building by 2018

Expansion program aims to accommodate rapidly developing technology and attract faculty to U.

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, September 5, 2014

The Corporation’s Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning has chosen architectural firm KieranTimberlake to design the School of Engineering’s new building.

Located along Manning Walk, west of current engineering building Barus and Holley, the new structure is part of the School of Engineering’s initiative to expand its faculty, programs and facilities.

Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey said the new building will be roughly 80,000 square feet. Construction will begin December 2015 or January 2016 with the intention of finishing the project by January 2018.

In order to clear the land for the new engineering facility, the Division of Applied Mathematics will move to a new 13,000-square-foot building, construction of which is set to begin in November. The applied math building, which will take roughly a year to complete, will be in the parking lot next to Barus and Holley.

Dean of Engineering Lawrence Larson, along with others from the School of Engineering, and the Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning  considered many architectural firms to spearhead the project, but KieranTimberlake emerged as the committee’s first choice, Carey said.

Carey cited “the combination of their past experience” and “the preliminary sense of the site and program” as key factors in selecting the firm for the project.

Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for facilities management, added that “aside from design excellence, we were looking for firms that were really, really good at collaboration.”

The new engineering building will require intensive infrastructure and technology for science research, in addition to being flexible enough to accommodate changing research demands. KieranTimberlake seemed to fit these qualifications, Larson said.

“The building we design has to be able to accommodate not only the science that we want to do today but also the science we might want to do 20 or 30 years from now,” Larson said. “We’re working really closely with KieranTimberlake to figure out how to design a building to foster that kind of evolution and interdisciplinary research over many, many decades.”

The new building also has ambitious sustainability goals. “We really want this building to be a model of sustainability and frugal energy use,” Larson said. “We really want it to be a model for the nation.”

He added that he hopes the project’s upgraded research facilities and design will attract prospective students and faculty members.

“Frankly, it’s much more exciting to have students and faculty come into a brand-new, high-tech building that embodies some of the most advanced thinking about what it means to do engineering education,” Larson said. “We see the new building as being really important for recruiting the best faculty in the world to come to Brown and teach and do research here.”

Carey said the new building will enable faculty growth and collaboration.

KieranTimberlake has not yet created a schematic for the new engineering building but is starting to discuss with University planning and policy committees how the space will be used, how architects will incorporate interdisciplinary collaboration into the design, and how the building will interact with the rest of campus.

KieranTimberlake won the Technology in Architectural Practice Building Information Modeling Award and the Institute Honor Award for Architecture from the 2014 American Institute of Architects, in addition to receiving the 2010 National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and over 160 design citations worldwide, according to the firm’s website.


  1. johnlonergan says:

    20 or 30 years from now, people will shake their heads in wonderment that Brown built yet another building. This is kind of like banks which built big, impressive branches. As banks have become disintermediated, they have let go of these properties. Perhaps in 30 years from now, this “new” Engineering building will have become a community center, with restaurants, stores and space for start-ups.

    When will Christina Paxson and the Brown faculty wake up and realize that the Brown brand does not reside in bricks and mortar? When will they realize that by increasing fixed and operating costs–and subsequently raising tuition to stratospheric levels–that they are simply reducing Brown’s ability to focus on its core offering: education to people around the world, from 8 to 80?

    There will always be a place for a privileged few to physically matriculate in Providence, but the 1600 per year will be but a small portion of the number that Brown will teach.

    Please, Christina Paxson, stop this spiral of increasing costs, increasing physical plant, increasing number of employees, and subsequent increasing costs. Please, respond to the real challenges posed by Stanford, the U of Texas, Harvard B School and other more progressive universities who understand their mission in a much wider sense.

    John Lonergan, AB ’72, HBS ’76, Venture Capitalist, Author, San Francisco

    • Voice of Reason says:

      Dude, enough with all the trash talk — there’s constructive conversation and dialogue, then there’s your warped obsession with the President and faculty. Sorry the Corporation didn’t hire you.

      • johnlonergan says:

        Stick to the topic. Bricks and mortar at brown are as useful as tits on a boar

        • Labs are completely useless, got it.

          Stanford and Harvard should definitely get rid of them. After all, the Business school is all that matters.

          And what’s wrong with 81 year olds?

          • johnlonergan says:

            At what point did banks start closing physical branch offices? Why did they do so? What lessons are there for universities that underinvest in online infrastructure?

          • At what point did you stop actually responding to the comment you’re replying on?

    • The examples you use are quite odd. No one builds more infrastructure than Stanford who has 6-8 building under construction at any given time in their 2000 acre campus. They are expanding their med school, built a new hospital, new clinic, new chemistry building, new bio building, new modern art museum, new dorm, and that was just this year. They also have a brand new law school and business school that opened in the last few years. Harvard as well built a whole new business school building and is in the planning stages of an entire new engineering campus. U of T are massive sprawling campuses of new construction. Columbia has entire new campus currently under construction. Students, faculty, grants are attracted to the new facilities. If Brown wants to compete, they must build.

      • johnlonergan says:

        The difference is that Brown has a lower endowment and is in the top 10 in tuition charged. Unlike Brown, Harvard and Stanford are charging ahead in online teaching. See one example of Stanford at

        My goal is to push administration, faculty and students to think beyond bricks and mortar. This never-ending focus on capital expenditures and increasing operating expenses will only lead to ruin at Brown. At McKiinsey we used to say: “If you can’t compete in the current game, change the game.” Brown–it’s time to change the game.

        • Why would we change the game to… another game where we aren’t competitive?

          If the big advantage of online education is the ability to reach a wider audience, and Harvard and Stanford are “ahead in online teaching”as you suggest, why would anyone choose whatever inferior product Brown would put out?

          (If you put a nonproductive comment about being part of the problem, I’ll probably punch a screen. )

          • Go Punch Your Screen? says:

            I think the answer is because no one has huge market share in the new game yet. It’s an open field and opportunity.

          • Screen Intact says:

            Won’t be punching my screen. You’re clearly not John, since you made a sorta constructive point.

          • johnlonergan says:

            Yup, John Lonergan as you live and breathe. In Kyoto at the moment.

          • For complete clarity sake: Are you “Go Punch Your Screen?”

            Enjoy Kyoto! It’s a beautiful city.

          • johnlonergan says:

            Perhaps you’re happy with an “inferior product.” As a Brown grad, I’m not. Go ahead–punch your screen. What have you done today to improve Brown’s presence on social media?

    • no sensationalism please says:

      You need labs to do research. Engineering lends itself to hands-on teaching, projects, etc. Barus and Holley is full and Prince is inadequate. You’re make a false dilemma argument – investing in new facilities doesn’t mean that Brown can’t invest in online courses.

  2. Are they knocking down the Applied Math building? Personally, I find that building beautiful and hope that it will be preserved. Some of the charm of Brown stems from the fact that many academic departments are housed in historic homes and buildings.

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