Richmond Street, #233 and 261

Two mid-to-late-century buildings will be demolished for a new Brown University science lab, connected and in proximity to other biotech and sciend-related facilities

About this Property

Reason for Demolition

These two buildings stand in the way of a new seven-story life sciences laboratory built for Brown University. The new building will occupy much of the block, replacing the buildings but also the parking areas in between.

The 1950s brick garage at 261 Richmond street is a small, 3,200-square-foot, one-story structure about 50 feet wide and 100 feet deep. The windows are rectangular with granite sills and a handsome stone nameplate on the eastern façade reads “Bishop Building.”

The 1970s painted concrete two-story, 31,000-square-foot building has no ornamentation, rectangular windows and a flat roof. It is two-story on the eastern side of the lot and one-story on the western side, conforming to the bend of Elbow Street.

Neither structure is listed in the Jewelry Manufacturing Historic District, even as non-contributing structures (sometimes structures are described with some history even if they are not significant to the district).

Current Events

The buildings are currently being prepared for demolition and equipment is on site. 233 will be demolished starting from the Chestnut Street side and moving towards Richmond. 261 will be demolished from south to north along Richmond, according to the Brown University Facilities management page.


Since the build date of 233 is around 1970, there are not great map representations of the building. 261 Richmond, though, first appears in the 1951 maps as expected.

  • 1921–1951 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 1, Plate 12 (page 23) — On the corner of Tallman (no longer a street) and Richmond is number 261 and 263, a square building in red indicating brick construction with the southern wall highlighted in blue, indicating stone or cement block. The building is labeled “Painting Contractor’s St’ge” with “Conc. Fl.” Ashcroft street also cuts through these parcels from Chestnut to Richmond.
  • 1921–1956 Sanborn Insurance Map, Volume 1, Plate 12 (page 13) — Much is the same, except a neighbor to the south has been removed and a small concrete ell has been added to the southeastern corner. The building is now labeled “Plating Wks” with iron posts and a concrete floor.

In the News

City OKs Brown’s 7-story lab building in Jewelry District after university’s buying spree

by Wheeler Cowperthwaite
Providence Journal | December 18, 2023 (abridged)

Brown University is moving forward with a seven-story lab building in Providence’s Jewelry District after receiving approval from the Downtown Design Review Committee.

Construction on the building could began as soon as summer 2024 and be completed as early as 2027.

New York architect Noah Biklen presented the final design of the project last week, calling it a way to bring together interdisciplinary communities.

“The overall vision for the building, our role here, is what it means to make a world-class research enterprise building,” he said.

The new building at 151-155 Chestnut St. is also proposed to have a bridge to 70 Ship St., over Elbow Street, to the building that holds Brown’s Laboratories for Molecular Medicine. The bridge would connect the second floor of the new lab building to the third floor of the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine building.

Renderings show labs would occupy the second through seventh floors of the buildings.

The Downtown Design Review Committee approved the project on Dec. 11, including the demolition of two buildings currently on the site, and granted waivers for enclosed heating, cooling and other systems on the roof and a height bonus, allowing it to go higher than the maximum height of 100 feet normally allowed in the zoning rules.

The building would be 139 feet tall, excluding the enclosed equipment on the roof, according to the plans Biklen presented to the committee. With the “mechanical penthouse,” the building’s height increases to 162 feet. Rooftop equipment is exempt from height limitations.

To get the height bonus, Brown had to include publicly accessible open space and “active ground floor uses” on the site, city planner Christopher Ise wrote in a staff report for the project for an October meeting. […]

Two buildings on the site of the new lab are to be demolished: 261 Richmond St., a one-story 3,225-square-foot brick building from 1950 that Brown bought for $513,000, and 233 Richmond St., a 31,344-square-foot masonry building from 1970. […]

Some of the first floor will be public, including a gallery and café, as well as access through the building to other portions of the site, allowing pedestrians to walk through, instead of around, the building. […]

Brown purchased 10 properties in the area in July 2022 in preparation to build the new lab next to other properties Brown already owns.

The new lab is likely to include wet and dry lab space, an “animal care facility” and space for researchers from different Brown departments, according to a draft plan released by the university.

The 2022 purchases included the Kilguss Institute, at 200 Chestnut St., which Women & Infants Hospital describes on its website as a 30,000-square-foot facility with 15 laboratories that it rents out. The lab space focuses on advanced microscopy, live cell imaging and molecular biology.

In all, Brown purchased the following properties in 2022:

  • 70 Elm St., $4.8 million
  • 261 Richmond St., $513,000
  • 297, 300, 324, 317 and 307 Richmond St. and 61 South St., $6.15 million
  • 200 Chestnut St., $4.9 million

While Brown has been leasing and buying lab space in the area, the new lab will just be for its own use.

Brown is also leasing out lab space in the partially occupied building at 225 Dyer St., a state-subsidized project, as well as the new state health lab, which is currently under construction.

Brown is also an anchor tenant in the South Street Landing nursing-education complex on the other side of Dyer Street, where it has 400 employees. Brown’s Warren Alpert Medical School Laboratories for Molecular Medicine and School of Public Health are also in the Jewelry District.

Captured June 16, 2024 from