In December, the University announced that it will lease two floors of the future Innovation Center complex in the Jewelry District to house the School of Professional Studies.
The building is currently under development by Wexford Science and Technology and is set to finish construction in roughly two years. Once completed, it will hold the SPS in 50,000 square feet of space on the third and fourth floors, according to Karen Sibley, vice president for strategic initiatives and dean of the SPS. The Cambridge Innovation Center will occupy the first and second floors, Sibley said, adding that there is no known tenant for the remaining space.
Given its current trajectory, the SPS has outgrown the roughly 20,000 square feet at 200 Dyer St., said Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, vice president for planning and policy. The school will increase the number of executive master’s programs from four to six and grow each class size in the coming years.
The SPS will pay for the lease itself because it generates its own revenue that supports its staff, programs and space, Carey said, adding that any excess revenue will return to the University.
The SPS will remain in the Jewelry District because the location fosters collaboration with the broader Providence commercial environment as an “intersection between Brown’s campus and the community,” Sibley said.
By expanding the SPS in the Jewelry District, the goal is to create “the kinds of environments that exist at places like Harvard and (Johns Hopkins University) and Penn,” Sibley added.
Wexford’s role also made the project more attractive to the University, Carey said, adding that the University has already worked with the developer on its South Street Landing project.
Wexford is “famous for … buildings that support the nexus between higher education and innovation economy,” Sibley said.
Close proximity to the Cambridge Innovation Center makes the location highly appealing, largely because the SPS and CIC have a similar entrepreneurial spirit, Carey said. CIC provides startups with working space, which is in short supply in Providence, he said.
The center attracts entrepreneurs because it enables rapid engagement with the community, Sibley said. The SPS serves “students who are by definition interested in innovation, either inside their careers or because they are entrepreneurs building new products,” she said, adding that she hopes to encourage students to learn from more experienced entrepreneurs at CIC.
“CIC has a long history of working productively with universities in the innovation space — in fact, the presence of strong, forward-thinking institutions is one of the ways we pick our new locations,” wrote Amelia Aboff ’11, expansion project lead at CIC, in an email to The Herald. “Since the beginning of our work in Providence, we’ve been excited about having Brown as a neighbor in the building, and we’re looking forward to seeing how our organizations can work together.”
Adding to the development in the area, Richard Galvin ’79 is developing a hotel next door, Sibley said. Galvin is the president and CEO of CV Properties, LLC, an equity partner with Wexford. The hotel and innovation center are part of the first phase of a project by CV Properties to develop the I-195 lands in Providence, also known as the Innovation and Design District, according to a press release from the Providence Innovation and Design District.
The efforts to develop this district aim to capitalize and build upon the growth of surrounding universities, including Brown, Rhode Island School of Design and University of Rhode Island, said Dyana Koelsch, the press contact for the Providence Innovation and Design District.