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60 Manning Street, photo by Stephanie Ewens

Timeline

Update on Brown IMP Amendment at CPC

January 2018

On January 16, 2018, Brown requested that their Institutional Master Plan (IMP) amendment be continued to the City Plan Commission (CPC) meeting on March 20, 2018. The request was granted. 

Please continue to submit emails of concern- including your name and address, and copying PPS- to the commission c/o principal planner Choyon Manjrekar,   and follow PPS on Facebook for updates.

December 2017

On Tuesday, December 19, the City Plan Commission (CPC) considered an amendment to the Brown University Institutional Master Plan (IMP) that would add two new major components to the IMP that was approved in February 2017:

 

  • A new student living and wellness building at 450 Brook Street (site of temporary parking lot)
  • A new performing arts center (PAC) between Waterman and Angell Streets and adjacent to "the walk" area of campus.
  • the Norwood/Benjamin Stevens House at 82 Waterman*
  • a house at 86 Waterman 
  • the Leonard M. Blodgett House at 127 Angell 
  • the Lucien Sharpe Carriage House at 135 Angell, which has been home to Brown's Urban Environmental Lab for nearly 40 years. 

 

Brown PAC site even smaller
Proposed site of new Performing Arts Center

The plan for the new PAC involves the demolition or removal of five historic structures: 

127 & 129 Angell Street
The Leonard M. Blodgett House and the Edward J. Cushing House

*A feasibility study commissioned by Brown determined that the Norwood House could be moved to 20 Olive Street, currently a Brown-owned parking lot. The Olive Street location falls within the College Hill local historic district; according to the Historic District Commission (HDC) guidelines, moving a historic structure into a local historic district is "discouraged except as a last alternative to demolition". 

At the December meeting, the CPC voted to continue the public hearing to January following a presentation by the university architect and comment by 20 community members.  Those who spoke eloquently against the demolition were a who's who of local preservationists, historians, architects, developers and College Hill residents; many of them were Brown alumni, parents and faculty in addition to two current environmental studies students. At least a dozen more people were there in support of the preservation of these College Hill resources.

Those who spoke raised many important points for consideration by the CPC and Brown. They included: College Hill being one of Brown's best attributes, the isolation of the surrounding historical buildings that would remain, the finality of demolition and the importance of the Angell and Waterman corridors not just to Brown but to all of College Hill and Providence.

The CPC also asked Brown to clarify two critical issues: a more satisfactory response to the need for parking for a new 500-seat PAC and greater consideration for alternative building sites, already vacant, such as in the Jewelry District and on I-195 parcels. 

82 Waterman
Norwood/Benjamin Stevens House

We fully appreciates Brown’s undertaking of a state-of-the-art Center that will serve the university and community at large. Naturally, challenges arise when introducing a major facility into a dense university campus known for its historical aesthetic. However, the Waterman/Angell corridor belongs to the community as much as the buildings along it do to the University. Respecting the characteristics of the College Hill neighborhood along this corridor is important. PPS opposes the demolition and relocation of these five buildings in the College Hill National Register District. We believe that Brown's amendment to their IMP is inconsistent with the City's zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan in regard to the preservation of historic resources and protection of neighborhood character.

We remain opposed to the gradual and continual erosion of historical buildings on College Hill. By our count, more than two dozen historic structures were demolished between 1995 and 2015—some for new facilities, including Brown’s new engineering and life sciences buildings, and others for parking. 135 Angell
Lucien Sharpe Carriage House

Regarding the institutional history of one specific building in question, 135 Angel Street, it is written, “With commendable energy and a sense of mission, Brown students ingeniously transformed a Victorian carriage house into what is arguably one of the nation’s first ‘green’ buildings [emphasis added]” (Brown University: An Architectural Tour, 2014).  The sacrifice of this building and its legacy would surely be an ironic and unfortunate outcome.

 

PPS learned about the proposed PAC site in 2016 but the site was not confirmed. At the time, we expressed our opposition to demolition of existing buildings and introduction of an out-of-scale building into the neighborhood which has a decidedly smaller scale. We suggested alternative sites. Brown confirmed the location in May 2017 and presented their IMP Amendment to PPS in September 2017.

Letter to CPC- Brown Institutional Master Plan (pdf)

Brown Institutional Master Plan Amendment (pdf)

 


Earlier in 2017

 

On May 10, 2017, Brown presented the preferred site for the new performing arts facility to PPS’s Planning and Architectural Review Committee. The committee had many questions about “The Walk” corridor between the main campus and the Pembroke campus, as well as Brown’s direction to potential architects. At this point, the Brown Board has not approved hiring of an architect. They did so two weeks later, hiring REX. See PPS’s letter to Brown about their chosen site and their Campus Design Principles and Project Design Guidelines.

PPS letter (pdf) regarding proposed site for Performing Arts Center

Performing Arts Center proposed site presentation (pdf)

Performing Arts Center website

Brown University submitted their new Institutional Master Plan to the City Plan Commission in January 2017. Within this plan, they declared their plans for demolitions and new construction:

Proposed Demolitions / Relocation

No demolitions or relocations requested.

Potential new construction and/or partnership projects:

• New Performing Arts

• New Residential

• Health Services / Counseling and Psychological Services

• Medical Research / Brain Science

2017 Brown Institutional Master Plan


 

January 2016

At the January 2016 meeting of the City Plan Commission, Brown University won approval to amend their Institutional Master Plan. Included in that amendment was the demolition of 7 houses in the College Hill National Historic District and approval to build a temporary parking lot. PPS and citizen advocates opposed the proposal for a new parking lot, but Thayer Street merchants and Wheeler School supported it. The CPC approval was contingent on Brown returning next year with a proposal for a building in their next IMP Amendment.

 

Relevant Articles:

February 2017

- Brown plans new, cutting-edge performing arts center

- Stand-alone performing arts center to be built

- Brown announces plans for new performing arts center

April 2017

- Brown Alumni Magazine Letter from the President

May 2017

- REX to design new performing arts center at Brown

- Brown University chooses architect for performing arts center