The Corporation authorized construction of two capital projects to begin this spring and summer at its meeting Feb. 27.
Funding and construction of both projects — the combined Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center and Nelson Fitness Center and renovations to the medical education building in the Jewelry District — were scaled back to cut costs and improve efficiency after the University's endowment fell $740 million in fall 2008, said Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior adviser to the president. But "more than sufficient" donor funds have been secured to move forward with the revised building plans, he said.
Under Corporation guidelines for approving building projects, "at least 90 percent of the cost of construction must be identified, with at least 50 percent of the funds at hand," Spies said. Both building projects "easily meet those requirements through secured gifts and pledges."
This weekend, the Corporation's Budget and Finance Committee authorized renovations to the existing medical education building, according to President Ruth Simmons' e-mail to the Brown community. The renovations, with an estimated total cost of $45 million, will begin as early as late March, Spies said.
The original plans to construct "an entirely new medical building at a cost of $80 million" were reevaluated after the financial crisis, Spies said.
While renovations "won't be as visible to people as a new building," the new additions will establish a central hub for medical students, he said. "It's the first time that the medical school will have a visible home that will meet the higher caliber of its students."
Like the medical education building, other capital projects in the next five to seven years will focus on improvements to existing buildings and maintenance, said Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Beppie Huidekoper.
There will be an audit beginning this year of all improvements that need to be made to existing buildings, and those will be proposed to the Corporation Facilities and Design Committee as the next capital projects, Huidekoper said.
"What's coming in the next five to seven years is a combination of the conditions study and things that we want to do," Huidekoper said. "There have been a lot of good projects, and there are still things we'd like to do."
The Budget and Finance Committee also approved the design for the new aquatics and fitness centers, according to Simmons' e-mail.
The committee authorized the construction of the combined center to begin during the summer, Spies said, and it is on schedule for completion in fall 2011. The total budget — including the development of a green quadrangle to replace the existing parking lot at the athletics complex — is $46.6 million, he said.
"We originally planned on the aquatics and fitness centers to be two separate buildings," Spies said, but after last year's endowment losses, "we went back and came up with projects that were more efficient," Spies said. Each center is smaller than originally conceived, he added, "because they will share common infrastructures like lobbies and bathrooms."
The combined center will feature exercise areas and a 56-meter pool for all students as well as conditioning facilities for intercollegiate athletes, according to Simmons' e-mail.
The Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center and the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts are on schedule for completion in September and December of the 2010–11 academic year, respectively, Spies said.
— With additional reporting by Sydney Ember and Nicole Friedman