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Brown Life Sciences Building

The new Life Sciences Building will be a 168,800-square-foot, $95-million research center on Meeting Street, adjacent to the existing 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.

The construction of the new space required several relocations and demolitions. The old Post Office at 201 Meeting Street was demolished, and the branch moved to 306 Thayer Street. The Brown Facilites Management team which occupied the Philip Andrews Building at 60 Olive St have moved and that building was also demolished.

The biggest displacement occured when Brown demolished the Sarah Doyle house, which housed the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center. The house was left to the University when Ms Doyle died with a specific request that the house remain intact as part of the campus. The Women’s Center was instead moved to 26 Benevolent Street, and although the house was an historic structure, it was quietly demolished.

The College Hill Neighbornood Association is locked in a battle with the University over its environmental impact study which concluded that the new center will generate 6000 lbs of pollutants, NOT from the regular working of a building of this size (heating, air-conditioning, etc...), but from the labs themselves. Brown maintains that chemical emissions from its labs are not subject to regulation thanks to a loophole in the environmental statutes, and that they are proposing to vent the new building's fume hoods directly into the surrounding neighborhood. Brown cannot specify what chemicals will be vented, but biomedical research makes extensive use of many highly toxic compounds, including radioactive materials and known carcinogens, which are alluded to, though not specified, in Brown’s Environmental Impact Survey.

Brown is reasserting itself as a force in the community, for better or worse. 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.

The fears that the CHNA raise are real, however, and thusfar, not addressed by the University. Furthermore, the city has done nothing to pressure Brown to do more research into the matter or come clean with what they already know. No doubt the building will be built and occupied on schedule, but how it will affect the community remains to be seen.

der einzige Jan 27 2013 Have you ever lived next to a college research lab. I have. very near boston. started out with a promise that only grad students would work there ant the work would be small scale.. in three years that promise was belied; large number of undergrads driving their cars in, lots of pollution from cars and research, and air quality was definitely affected. Oh well. cannot stop the forward thrust of progress, especially when sponsored by the uber-rich... We all know that women’s center was useless anyway, women are over empowered and over represented, right? (Hoping you get the joke)

Joe The toxins argument is totally overblown. It’s just the neighbors trying to clothe their NIMBYism with a veil of legitimacy. For what it’s worth, there are PLENTY of pigeons on the roof. And frankly, pigeon droppings are going to represent far more serious a health risk than the boogeyman of toxins.

brianna i agree with jerry in that brown’s production of “toxic chemicals” through lab experiments will not significantly increase due to one building. also, brown has its students to think about. if the life sciences building was actually such a large environmental hazard, parents spending thousands on a brown education would have something to say about the potentially carcinogenic effects as well.

jerry I doubt that the pollutants from the lab will be all that bad. The same amount of research is being done now, at facilities that are spread out throughout the campus.

Tod Damon I have heard from a very reliable source that a disproportionate amount of residents on a street bordering the BioMedical Center either have some form of cancer or lost someone in their family to cancer. There is a good reason to make Brown disclose what they plan to discharge from the new Life Sciences building. Or we can just guage it by the lack of pigeons on their roof.

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