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No more parking for students on campus

Creative Arts Center will have outdoor amphitheater

Clarification appended.

Starting next semester, the University will no longer provide on-campus parking for students, a University official announced Thursday at a public presentation on facilities design.

"Next fall students will be parking off campus," Michael McCormick, assistant vice president for planning, design and construction, said during the meeting. Students will have to find their own parking, as the existing spots will be "redistributed" for other University parking needs, he said.

The University has been trying to cut down on the number of student cars in the last few years with free use of Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority and the introduction of rental company Zipcars to Providence, McCormick said.

The number of student cars allowed to be parked on campus has dropped from 500 to 250 in the last couple of years due to these changes, he said.

Responding to a question on whether Brown plans to build underground parking below its planned facilities, McCormick said the University is aware that there is "never-ending demand for parking" and has looked at the cost of underground parking, which he said costs $70,000 per space versus $3,500 per space for above-ground spots.

The University "is trying to make it not necessary to have cars," McCormick said.

Reaction around campus from students informed of McCormick's announcement was mixed.

"My immediate reaction is there is still going to be a really big demand. Students feel like they need their cars," Mallory Taub '08 said. "People have jobs or have other legitimate reasons for having cars, so I guess demand for parking will go up and get more expensive."

Other students said that student parking wasn't a necessity

"There are other forms of transportation - I use RIPTA every weekend," Asia Del Bonis '11 said. "It's not up to Brown to provide students with parking spaces."

"I didn't know Brown had student parking. I was planning on having a car, but I know it's already pretty bad. I'm really pleased with RIPTA and safeRIDE so I guess I can live without one," Andrew Migneault '11 said.

But for upperclassmen who live off campus or who have already gotten used to having a car, this change will be a bigger blow. It "makes people with cars more miserable - it's already a pretty crappy parking situation," said Jon Spector '10.

Taub said she thinks it would be important for students to at least have some kind of parking farther away and provide shuttles to and from the campus.

"I know a lot of upperclassmen who have cars," she said. "If you don't have a car you know someone who has one."

"I was hoping to have a car at some point so now I'm not sure," Karthikeyan Harith '11 said. "It would be expensive and cumbersome to find parking. I want a car because trains are expensive if I want to go to Boston or New York. This seems really sad."

"It is a problem that they are avoiding the parking issue," said Peter Mackie '59, Brown's sport archivist.

"Students are not going to be happy about off-campus parking, and I'm especially worried about killing off fan base during sporting events," he added. "People are not going to want to walk three blocks in the cold snow. It's a very bad situation, and they are just trying to put it on the back burner."

Building the campus

Also during the presentation on plans for construction, four architects showed updated plans for new University facilities that they said are designed to draw the campus together.

In a separate announcement, the University revealed that it has chosen Schwartz/Silver Architects for the upcoming renovations to Faunce House. The $15-million Stephen Robert '62 P'91 Campus Center, slated to be completed in 2010, will provide new student gathering spaces, meeting rooms for student groups and another campus eatery.

The Creative Arts Center, a $45-million facility to be located along the Walk between Olive and Angell streets, will house a theater, gallery, shop space, studios and a black box theater. The indoor theater will continue onto an outdoor amphitheater, with a glass wall that can be used to increase seating for indoor events or purely outdoor movie viewings.

Architect Charles Renfro, of the New York-based firm Diller, Scofidio and Renfro, said he hopes that lower walls - made entirely of glass - facing the Walk will create more open space for the pathway connecting Pembroke College and the Main Campus. Additionally, the side facing the street will have video screens and glass poster cases for showcasing art, Renfro said.

The multi-disciplinary facility will also have a "green" roof with plant life on it. Though limited funds preclude creating a roof that would be accessible to students, it will be a "beautiful addition to the campus," McCormick said.

Many at the meeting were happy to hear about the green roof on the Creative Arts Center, especially 25 students taking ENVS0410: "Environmental Stewardship and Sustainable Design" this semester, who attended the last half-hour of the presentation.

"Last year students from this class worked on that very concept, and now they are doing it," Environmental Stewardship Initiatives Manager Kurt Teichert said.

The $69-million Mind Brain Behavior Building will house labs, classes, offices and social space as the new home for the cognitive and linguistic sciences and psychology departments, as well as the Brain Science Program. There will also be one classroom that opens out into a small garden for a "more intimate place for classes," said Tom Chung, of Leers Weinzapfel Associates.

The revamping of the Erickson Athletic Complex will consist of a new swim facility, the Nelson Fitness Center, a new entrance to Meehan Auditorium and the replacement of the parking lot with open green space.

"Providence is a spectacular place - unfortunately our site is not a spectacular space," said Gary Brewer, associate partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, the firm responsible for the changes to the athletic complex. The plans will be an "extension of what we consider to be the best of Brown," he added.

The changes to the athletic facilities will mean a loss of the existing public squash courts in the Smith Swim Center, which the University does not plan to replace.

The removal of the Urban Environmental Laboratory to create space for the Mind Brain Behavior Building was also addressed. McCormick said the University does "not have any plans yet as to what will happen to the building."

"If they are going to tear down existing buildings they really need to commit to making something extraordinary, and I'm just not sure about it," Stephan Wollenburg '09, who takes ENVS0140, said of the new buildings. He was especially worried about how the Mind Brain Behavior Building will affect the UEL.

"We are of course worried and interested as to what will happen to that building," he said.

An article in Friday's Herald ("No more parking for students on campus," Feb. 8) implied that the University would no longer provide any parking for students. In fact, students will be provided with off-campus parking and a shuttle service to and from College Hill.


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