PROVIDENCE – In a move to preserve more of the historic structures which dot Brown University’s campus and minimize the above-ground footprint of its proposed performing arts center, the Ivy League university on Tuesday submitted a revised institutional master plan after concerns were expressed by the community.
“Brown is dedicated to being a good community partner, and we take very seriously the concerns expressed by local community members,” said Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy, in a statement.
The updated plan, which will be presented at the March 20 Providence City Plan Commission meeting, “responds directly” to community concerns said Carey. The plan shifts the proposed site of the building from Angell and Waterman streets to a smaller plot on Angell and Olive streets which does not require the demolition of any historic structures and allows for “more of the programming space” to be accommodated underground.
Carey said the university had initially “considered” the plot on Angell and Waterman streets but deemed it “too small.”
Carey also added, “After arriving at the program validation process, and based on feedback from the community, we were able to re-examine our assumptions and have found the smaller plot is feasible.”
If construction had progressed at the Angell and Waterman site, four historic structures would have been demolished and one relocated. With the new plan, one structure, Sharpe House on Angell Street, will be relocated and none demolished. The Sharpe House currently houses the history department faculty and staff and, according to the release, a plan is in the works to move it to a site adjacent to the Peter Green House on Brown Street.
A segment of Olive Street currently owned by the university will “likely” be closed to “regular vehicle” traffic as a result of this move, according to the release.
By Brown’s count, the university currently owns more than 130 historic houses and buildings. They range in age from the 1770s to 75 years old.
Collette Creppell, university architect, said in prepared remarks the school has invested $500 million in “revitalization” of these properties over the past 12 years which “makes Brown the leader in Rhode Island in historic preservation.”
Carey noted that the university is “pleased” by the new plan which will “preserve structures” while “meeting the university’s academic goals for a central campus hub for the performing arts.”
In February 2017, the Corporation of Brown University approved the initial site for the new performing arts facility and the project has remained in the planing stages since. Three months later, the university chose New York City-based REX architects to design the center.
Last fall Brown requested input from the community to form the institutional master plan for the performing arts facility.