Brown Selects Two Architectural Firms to Design New Life Sciences Building in the Jewelry District


The University selected architects from Deborah Berke Partners, a New York-based architecture and interior design firm, and Ballinger, a Philadelphia-headquartered engineering and architecture firm, to design the new life sciences building in the jewelry district of Providence, according to an Oct. 17 Press release.

After announcing the project in June 2022, the University interviewed a group of companies interested in the design of the building, according to University spokesperson Brian Clark. Following this initial process, 14 architectural firms were selected to submit their proposals for the building, from which four finalists were ultimately interviewed.

A commitment to sustainable design practices and previous experience developing academic research facilities and working in urban environments were key factors in identifying design teams for the new building, Clark wrote in an email to the Herald.

“Deborah Berke Partners and Ballinger have extensive experience working with academic institutions on complex, large-scale projects and have also partnered individually with Brown,” he added. DBP is currently part of the crew of architects working on the William and Ami Danoff residence and dormitory at 250 Brook St. Ballinger Architects previously designed the Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences.

When selecting companies, the University looked “carefully at the company’s values ​​and their ability to understand” the University’s mission, said University Architect Craig Barton. A spirit of business collaboration was central to the assessment, he added.

DBP is focused on creating a sense of community among the various people involved in and affected by its projects, according to Noah Biklen ’97, a partner at the firm who leads the design team for this project. “We are really interested in a building that is connected to the larger community in which it sits,” he said. “We want a building that is ideal for science, ideal for scientists and also ideal for the community.”

“Academic buildings should be environments where people can work productively and collaboratively,” Biklen added. “Architecturally, it ends up being (a space) with a connection to the outdoors and (access) to light.”

DBP is also focusing on sustainable design in the new building, which aligns with the University’s goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040, according to Biklen.

“This building has a real opportunity to set a standard for Brown’s science buildings,” he said.

Ballinger will focus on ensuring that the project meets the functional requirements of working in science, creating a building that “is not only relevant to science today, but also has the (flexibility) to ‘evolve’ as the science changes over time, said firm principal Terry Steelman.

DBP and Ballinger will collaborate to fulfill their different responsibilities and bring their unique experiences to the project, he added.

But before creating plans for the building, the team will hold “in-depth” engagement workshops with stakeholders and user groups, Biklen said. These groups include principal investigators, researchers, facility and operations workers, and members of the surrounding community.

The University also plans to launch “extensive programming…which will assess factors ranging from space needs and site requirements to conceptual design and projected scale and scope, as well as estimated project costs. and funding sources,” Clark wrote.

Although a specific location in the jewelry district has not been identified for the new building, the team expects to complete construction in 2026 barring possible delays caused by the need for external approvals, according to Barton.

This project will be “incredibly transformational (one) for Brown – both in science (and) also in terms of its footprint in the jewelry district,” Steelman said.

“We are incredibly excited about the prospect (of) creating an integrated life sciences building in the Jewelry District,” Clark wrote. “The selection of the architecture team marks the next critical step towards a long-term process in realizing the vision for this building.”

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