News, University News

Corporation approves site for performing arts center

During its two-day meeting, Corporation also approves architecture firm that will construct the center, creation of Brown Physicians, Inc.

Senior Staff Writer
Monday, May 29, 2017

During its two-day meeting, the Corporation approved the proposed site of a new performing arts center that will require the controversial demolition of the Urban Environmental Lab.

Updated June 2 at 10:41 p.m.

The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, approved the controversial site along the Walk for the new performing arts center and selected architecture firm REX to design the center during its meetings May 25 and May 26. It also approved the creation of the nonprofit Brown Physicians, Inc.

The site approved for the performing arts center includes two academic buildings and three residential structures located on the west side of the Walk, adjacent to a number of structures dedicated to the arts, including the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. 

Announcement of the site’s consideration earlier in the year spurred controversy among the community over the demolition of the Urban Environmental Laboratory that may come with the construction of the center. The demolition of the UEL has yet to be approved by the Corporation. 

“Any decision to demolish or relocate a building would require separate approval by the Corporation, once a plan to do so is established and recommended,” wrote Director of News and Editorial Development Brian in a follow-up email to The Herald. The University acknowledges the possibility of a demolition, though “broadly speaking, the possibilities could include demolition or relocating or even designing around a structure, if feasible,” Clark wrote.

About 26 percent of students agreed and 40 percent disagreed that the University should build the center on the site of the UEL, according to The Herald’s Spring 2017 poll.

Two other locations, one on Meeting Street southeast of Alumnae Hall and the other on Brook Street between Meeting and Cushing streets “were also considered as potential sites,” according to the release. Those locations would have posed a number of difficulties, including the potential displacement of academic and student housing, according to the press release. 

Students and administrators have discussed the future of programs currently housed in the buildings that will be demolished, and now that the site has been approved, the process of moving the programs “will continue to be an open and participatory process,” Clark said.

Selected by the Design Review subcommittee of the Corporation Committee on Facilities and Campus Planning, architecture firm REX was chosen out of fifteen firms originally invited to submit proposals, Clark said.

REX has won recognition and awards for buildings including the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center in New York, the Seattle Central Library and the Dee and Charles Wyly Theater in Dallas, according to a University press release.

Members of the subcommittee visited performance spaces designed by many of the firms, and five firms were advanced for further consideration. After lengthy discussions, the Corporation voted to select REX for its “willingness to design for flexibility … and track record of success in designing performance venues,” Clark said.

Environmental considerations will play a role in the design and construction process of the new performing arts center, Clark said. REX is well-versed in design for environmental sustainability. The project will use a method called integrated project delivery, which allows for collaboration across the design, planning and building process, Clark said. Integrated project delivery “is absolutely proven to bring with it benefits for sustainability.” as opposed to a method in which each step in the building process is performed in isolation, he said.

With approval for the construction site and selection of REX as the architecture firm, “detailed planning” for the performing arts center is expected to begin this summer, according to the press release.

Clark declined to comment on the estimated cost and fundraising progress for the performing arts center.

During its two-day meeting, the Corporation also approved the creation of the nonprofit Brown Physicians, Inc., which will create a federation made up of the Alpert Medical School and six independent foundations staffed by faculty members from the Med School, Clark said. The foundations include the Neurology Foundation, Inc., University Emergency Medicine Foundation, University Medicine Foundation and University Surgical Associates, Inc.

The purpose of the federation is to provide more opportunities for coordination between the six practices and the Med School as well as opportunities for research and advancement. The conversations to create BPI began with the physicians at the foundations themselves approximately five or six years ago, Clark said.

The foundations will remain independently incorporated within Brown Physicians, Inc. — they are not and will not be under University control — but the groundwork has been laid to create potential for further integration in the future.

The foundations “could ultimately make a decision to … merge into one practice foundation,” Clark said.

“Brown will be investing significantly in the startup of BPI … (and) help to get it off the ground,” Clark said. “Over time … the medical school will receive contributions from revenues that are generated by those practices” within BPI.

The new management structure will be led by a board of directors composed of presidents of each of the six foundations and Jack Elias, senior vice president for health affairs and dean of medicine and biologic sciences, and a second University representative that has yet to be determined, Clark said. The foundations are in the process of bringing on an executive director to handle day-to-day operations, which are currently led by Professor of Medicine Angela Caliendo.

The Corporation also accepted $40 million in gifts during its meetings. The $40 million in gifts contributed to the BrownTogether campaign, which has raised $1.323 billion of its $3 billion goal as of May, Clark wrote in a follow-up email to The Herald. The gift also included a $5 million anonymous gift for undocumented and refugee students. “With the gift in hand, the University will begin to work toward communicating the specific parameters about eligibility and how those funds will be managed,” Clark said.

The Corporation also appointed faculty to endowed chairs and elected new members, including new young alumni trustee Chiamaka Anyoku ’14, during its meeting, according to a University press release.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that architecture firm REX would be building the performing arts center. In fact, the architecture firm will be designing the center. A previous version also stated that the University will be demolishing the University Environmental Lab. In fact, the University may demolish the UEL upon approval from the Corporation. The Herald regrets the errors. 

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One Comment

  1. This is a great location as long as every other program and building is salvaged and moved.

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