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The University could help fuel the developing knowledge-based economy in Providence, according to Assistant Vice President of Planning, Design and Construction Michael McCormick.
In a Brown University Community Council meeting Tuesday at Brown/RISD Hillel, McCormick and several other officials unveiled the University's plans for expansion into the Jewelry District as part of the Institutional Master Plan, a "compliance document" through which the University lets the city know its plans for its land.

In addition to the new Medical Education Building at 222 Richmond St., the plans for the Jewelry District include research centers, offices, residential areas, campus centers and conference hubs. According to McCormick, surveys taken throughout the University community showed a demand for "a healthy mixture of uses" of the area.

As planners continue to consider long- and short-term development, they are faced with the challenge of building research facilities, which can be tougher to plan than office and residential spaces, McCormick said. "We need to be careful for the few places that have footprints for research."  

For transportation to and from the Jewelry District, students would use the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority's UPASS program and the Brown Med/Downcity Express shuttle, a riverfront walkway and possibly a future streetcar to connect "meds to eds," McCormick said.

McCormick said the University envisions the Jewelry District as an area teeming with new research and bustling with businesses and cafes, but added that there remain some concerns about security, sanitation, lighting, graffiti  and commercial retail activity.  

Several people who attended the meeting responded to these and other issues. Nancy Fjeldheim, manager for the Department of Geological Sciences, urged that the greenway down to the Jewelry District be a "clearly marked path."  

Joseph Bush GS suggested craft fairs and farmers' markets as events to draw people to the area. He also said offering a prize for murals on the new buildings could prevent graffiti.
Gillian Bell, a project manager for Computing and Information Services who said she has worked in the Jewelry District for four years, said, "Security is a number one priority." She added that additional retail development in the area is necessary.

Merle Krueger, associate director of the Center for Language Studies, suggested including a hotel run by the University to bring guests to Providence for conferences and other events. Krueger also said dorms based in the Jewelry District would be the "key to keeping the two parts of campus integrated."   

The group "Beyond the Bottle," which advocates for the University to discourage the use of plastic water bottles, also made a presentation at the council's Tuesday meeting.

Following the presentation, the council passed a motion supporting the group's campaign"to provide sustainable alternatives to single-use water bottles on campus." The motion also urged "Dining Services proactively to provide alternatives to students, faculty and staff," and identified as a goal the "elimination of bottled water on campus."


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