The News Service
Meeting of the Corporation
Brown to design and build, buy and retrofit two new research facilities
At its Saturday, Oct. 11, meeting, the Corporation of Brown University received a report from its Facilities and Design Committee which included an approved design for a new $95-million Life Sciences Building and information on the purchase of a building at 70 Ship St. in the Jewelry District of Providence, which the University will retrofit for use as a biomedical research center. Taken together, the two facilities will increase the University’s life sciences research space by 75 percent.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Corporation of Brown University has received a final report on plans for two new research facilities in the life sciences, an important element in the University’s multiyear Initiatives for Academic Enrichment.
The Corporation’s Facilities and Design Committee presented the approved design for a new $95-million Life Sciences Building, to be constructed adjacent to the current BioMedical Center on Meeting Street. The committee also presented the University’s plan to retrofit the recently purchased Doran-Speidel Building, 70 Ship St. in the Providence Jewelry District, for service as a biomedical research facility. Both projects are now moving forward.
The University’s growing biomedical research enterprise and its plan to add at least 100 new faculty positions during the next eight to 10 years have created an urgent need for additional research space. Taken together, the two new facilities represent an increase of approximately 75 percent in Brown’s laboratory capacity for life science research. They are the University’s first major investments in new research space in more than 12 years.
“Additional research space has been among the most pressing needs facing our Division of Biology and Medicine,” said Brown Provost Robert J. Zimmer. “Retrofitting the Ship Street property will allow us to increase our biomedical research space by 25 percent in less than a year while the new Life Sciences Building is under construction.”
The new Life Sciences Building will be a 168,800-square-foot, $95-million research center on Meeting Street, adjacent to the BioMedical Center. When it is completed, the facility will include more than 50 new laboratories, supporting research in the departments of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry; Neuroscience; Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences; and the interdisciplinary Brain Sciences program. The building will also contain new space for interdisciplinary initiatives in genetics and genomics.
More than 50 current faculty members will relocate to the Life Sciences Building, and the facility will support as many as 11 new researchers who will be joining the expanding faculty in the coming years.
The Doran-Speidel Building, 70 Ship St., is a five-story structure of reinforced concrete constructed in 1912, with additions in 1964 and 1965. It was named for an early tenant, the Speidel Chain Co., originally a maker of gold watch chains and, after 1930, of expandable watch bracelets designed by Edwin Spiedel.
Brown signed an agreement to purchase the Ship Street property for $14.6 million in May 2003 and closed on the property Sept. 30. An adjacent 140-space parking lot was included in the purchase.
In addition to the purchase, the University will spend nearly $23 million to renovate and reconfigure the structure’s 105,000 gross square feet for research purposes. As many as 150 researchers, including faculty, laboratory staff and student assistants, will work in the building, conducting more than $10 million in sponsored research annually.
Researchers who will be moving into the new facility include 27 faculty from four departments at Brown (Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry; Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology and Biotechnology; Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine), 10 of whom will hold newly created faculty positions.
According to Appleseed Inc., a New York-based economic development consultant, construction of the new Life Sciences Building and renovation of the Ship Street property will generate a total of 1,000 person-years of direct employment in construction and related industries. Indirect economic effects – spending by contractors and other firms, plus household spending by workers employed on the project – will add another $60 million in economic output to the state’s economy and more than 708 person-years of employment, about 92 percent of it in Providence County.
Economic impact of two construction projects
In addition to the economic activity related to construction costs, Appleseed Inc. estimated that the two buildings will produce an additional $23.4 million in annual federal research support. The goods and services which that research activity will purchase, plus household spending by persons employed in the two facilities, will add another $14.1 million and 149 full-time equivalent jobs to the state’s economy.
Economic impact of operations in two facilities
Finally, Appleseed Inc. used research on technology transfer conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and the Ohio State University to estimate the likely effect on business development in Rhode Island. Based on Brown’s recent experience, research activity in the two facilities would be sufficient to generate two licensed start-up companies each year – each of which would attract $1 million per year in venture capital and other investments for their first seven years. That money would be used to rent space, hire employees and pay suppliers in Rhode Island.