Initial construction on the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center in Faunce House is now underway, according to Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for Facilities Management.
The University also plans to break ground on a new Creative Arts Center and renovate Caswell and Slater Halls before classes begin in September.
The Faunce renovations are not scheduled to be complete until December 2010, Maiorisi said, though a new basement event space in the former mailroom should be complete by September.
Because the rest of the building will be under construction for the duration of the 2009-2010 school year, the Blue Room Cafe will temporarily relocate to the Salomon Center lobby, Maiorisi said.
After an expensive new "Mind Brain Behavior building" was scrapped earlier this semester due to financial pressures, the University has now identified an overhauled Metcalf Chemistry and Research Laboratory as the likely future home of Brown's brain science programs, administrators said Wednesday.
A facelift for Faunce
The revamped Faunce House will look very different from the one students use now.
When renovations are complete, a new food service area will occupy the space currently filled by Petteruti Lounge, Maiorisi said, adding that Dining Services is "planning a potential expansion" of the food service offered in that location.
The Blue Room's current location will be converted into an expanded dining area, complete with booth-style seating and views of both the Main Green and Waterman Street, he said.
Additional renovations to the building will include new side access from Faunce Arch, a visitor center, a new roof on the building's older west wing and overhauls of all interior spaces, including Leung Gallery, the Underground and the Student Activities Office.
Overall, the changes will allow Faunce — which has over the years evolved into a de facto center of social life on campus — to more easily cater to student and community needs, Maiorisi said.
Because it is located within steps of the student services hub in J. Walter Wilson, the Third World Center and Brown/RISD Hillel, he said, the renovated building can form the cornerstone of a "student district" on campus.
The Underground and Campus Market will be closed for construction from this summer through December 2010, Maiorisi said.
Certain details of the Faunce plans have not yet been finalized, Maiorisi said.
The University is considering adding a mezzanine that would hang over Leung Gallery in an effort to increase flow across the building's third floor and add to the "student center feel," he said.
A Mezzanine would add about $600,000 to the approximately $18 million project, he said. Current plans illustrate Leung Gallery equipped with chairs and tables, with new reading and lounge spaces in the space currently occupied by the SAO.
Though many aspects of the plans — from the new glass entryway in Faunce Arch to the modular armchairs of the proposed dining area — are modern in style, "historic parts (of the building) are being renovated to look historic," Maiorisi said.
Ceilings, woodwork, fireplaces and historic wainscoting will be restored throughout the building, he said.
Breaking ground, scaling back
Elsewhere on campus, construction will begin this summer on the long-planned Creative Arts Center, Maiorisi said.
The University expects to break ground for that project in late May and complete it by January 2011. The facility will hold classrooms, studios and meeting spaces for interdisciplinary work in the arts and will be equipped for acoustics and exhibitions.
But as a chorus of construction tones warms up along the Walk, the University will continue making quiet plans for a proposed brain sciences building.
In response to budgetary concerns, the Corporation decided in February that the University should consider renovating an existing building — rather than building new — for the project.
Renovations could cost less than building a new structure by as much as half, Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president, told The Herald in February.
The University has since identified the Metcalf Chemistry and Research Laboratory as the "main option" for construction, said Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations.
Renovations on the building — currently home to the Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences program, a planned occupant of the new facility — were scheduled for summer 2010 but were postponed due to tightened budgets, Maiorisi said.
Administrators will present a formal proposal for the brain sciences facility to the Corporation at its meeting in May.
Were the Corporation to sign off on renovating Metcalf as a way to proceed with that project, it would lay to rest for the near future the possibility of tearing down or relocating the Urban Environmental Laboratory and two University-owned houses on Angell Street to make way for a new facility.
Though University officials said in February that construction on a new aquatics center could begin as soon as the summer, the pool project is "still in its planning phase," Quinn said.
The Corporation officially accepted a $14.75 million bequest in February — more than half of the necessary funding — that jump-started the project, which officials had previously suggested was a low priority.
Under Brown's current guidelines, the project can move forward only once the funds from the bequest are in hand and gifts have been secured for the remainder of the approximately $25 million project.
The University is still actively fundraising to secure the remaining funds, she said.
Plans for the new Nelson Fitness Center remain on hold, Quinn said.
Facilities Management will be completing only minor work on the campus's 90 classrooms this summer, Maiorisi said.
The University has completed the Task Force on Undergraduate Education's recommended technology upgrades, he added.
But Facilities will move forward with renovations of Slater and Caswell Halls to be completed by September, Thomas Forsberg, associate director of housing and residential life, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.
New bathrooms will be created on the first and fourth floors of Slater, while the existing second- and third-floor facilities will be renovated.
The addition of new bathrooms will have "no significant impact" on existing room sizes, as they will largely take over spaces now occupied by hallway closets and entryways, Forsberg wrote.
Construction will "virtually double" the existing lounge space of Caswell Hall, he wrote, and a new kitchen will be installed where the current lounge sits.
New doubles will replace existing smaller kitchens on the upper floors. The University also expects to upgrade the furniture in Barbour Hall doubles in time for the fall, he added.