Claverick Street, #35

also known as Johnson & Wales Center for Physician Assistant Studies

A mid-century brick indistrial building on the edge of the Jewelry District is given new life as part of Johnson & Wales University

About this Property


This 17,000 square foot nondescript and unnamed building on the edge of the Jewelry District got a makeover and a 1,800 square foot addition as it transformed from industrial/office to space for classrooms, labs, lecture hall, library, and administrative offices. The concrete and glass addition added new circulation space to the building with a dramatic main entrance. The building has received LEED Gold Certification for its efficiency.1

In addition to its environmental certification, the project also received a 2014 Design Award from the AIA RI chapter2, a 2014 Preservation Award from the Providence Preservation Society3, and a 2015 GrowSmart RI Award4.

Current Events

The building is now home to Johnson & Wales’ training program for Physician Assistants.


From Providence Preservation Society’s 2014 Preservation Awards

Immediately following World War II, a new type of steel frame industrial building began to appear in the Jewelry District in Providence, featuring brick veneers and long, horizontal ribbon windows. Designed by Samuel Lerner5 in 1948 to house jewelry manufacturers, the Claverick Building was an early example of this type. Built with continuous bands of steel framed sash wrapping around the two story brick building, the Claverick Building continued to serve jewelry-related tenants well into the 2000s.

Located adjacent to Johnson & Wales University’s Downtown Providence campus, the building was the perfect location for a new Physician Assistant Studies program. The University engaged Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects to transform the historic building into an open, vibrant, and high-tech facility that includes a gross anatomy lab; a clinical skills practice lab; a 60 person lecture hall; an active learning classroom for 48 students; a library; and administration space.

The project team paid special attention to the character-defining windows, fabricating screen-printed glass and shadow box assemblies designed to reinterpret the patterns of the original windows while also creating visual depth at glazed areas that would otherwise be flatly opaque. The project also included a 1,800 square foot addition onto the original building. Classes began earlier this year, bringing a vibrant new use to a unique mid-century building.

The project team would like to thank Michael Viveiros from Durkee, Brown, Viveiros & Werenfels Architects; Chris Maury, Justin Bernard, David Presbrey, and Aimee Kingston from Shawmut Design and Construction; and the City of Providence Department of Planning and Development.

— Captured on March 6, 2022 from an snapshot at

In the News

J & W planning program for physician aides

by Felice J. Freyer
Providence Journal | December 17, 2012

Johnson & Wales University plans to open a training program for physician assistants, in hopes of meeting the growing health-care needs of an aging population and boosting the development of Providence’s “Knowledge District.”

On Monday, university officials and others will gather to unveil the design plans for the former jewelry factory at 157 Clifford St., which they plan to transform into the Center for Physician Assistant Studies. The center will house the first such training program in Rhode Island, a 24-month master’s degree program. The university hopes the first class of 24 students will start in June 2014.

Physician assistants practice in a variety of health-care settings, from primary-care offices to surgical suites. Working with supervising physicians, they can perform physical exams, diagnose illness, prescribe medications, suture, splint and cast, and assist at surgery, among other tasks.

About 300 physician assistants work in Rhode Island today, but all were educated out of state. There are 170 physician-assistant training programs nationwide, and Rhode Island is one of only four states without one.

But in a state with five nursing schools, a medical school and pharmacy school, why is the first physician-assistant training program based at a culinary school?

Jeffrey Senese, vice president for academic affairs, explained in a phone interview Sunday that Johnson & Wales’ new venture is not as incongruous as it might seem. First, he noted that JWU is not chiefly a culinary school — only 5,000 of its 17,000 students study cooking. Second, the culinary school does teach nutrition, so health care is not completely out of left field.

But most important, he said, the new program is in keeping with the university’s history of creating academic programs to meet current needs. In fact, he said, that’s why the culinary school started in 1972 at what had been a business school — because of market demand.

Now the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the demand for physician assistants will increase by 30 percent over the next decade. Other health professions are also growing — and JWU is contemplating offering physical therapy, athletic training, occupational therapy and perhaps nursing, in the years ahead, said Senese. “The second-tier midlevel practitioner — that’s where the growth is in health care,” Senese said.

George Bottomley, director of the new Center of Physician Assistant Studies, said a growing population of elderly people with complex medical needs “makes the physician-assistant profession well-positioned to be the solution to some of the health-care problems this country has,” he said. “Pay is significantly less than the supervising physician colleagues’ pay. The health-care institutions I’ve been talking to are very eager to start weaving physician assistants into the fabric of health care.”

Physician assistants, along with nurse practitioners, will be called upon to fill the gap in primary care as debt-burdened medical students continue to favor high-paying specialties and the federal health-care overhaul draws more people into insurance coverage.

The university spent just over $3 million buying the 18,000-square-foot Clifford Street building and is spending an additional $5.5 million fixing it up. Renovations will create 90 to 100 temporary construction jobs, and 30 temporary architectural and engineering jobs. When the training program opens, it will have 15 full-time employees.

The building is just a few blocks from the Brown University’s new medical school at 222 Richmond St. “Brown is very pleased that we’re doing this,” Senese said. “When their students hit the streets, they’re going to have to work with PAs.”

JWU has submitted documents seeking provisional accreditation from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, which is expected to visit in June 2013. Tuition is expected to be about $70,000 to $80,000 for both years.

The training program, which runs year round, will be “pretty intense,” said Bottomley, with the first year devoted to classroom instruction and the second year to clinical rotations. Graduates, he said, are most likely to stay to practice in Rhode Island. Starting salaries vary by specialty and location. In primary care, pay starts “somewhere in the mid-70s to mid-80s,” Bottomley said. The national median salary for a currently practicing PA is $93,000, he said.

— Freyer, Felice J.. “EDUCATION | J&W planning program for physician aides.” Providence Journal (RI), 1 ed., sec. News, 17 Dec. 2012, p. MAIN_01. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 6 Mar. 2022.

  1. Information gleaned from the architect’s portfolio entry for this property. Captured March 6, 2022 from 

  2. Captured March 6, 2022 from 

  3. Captured March 6, 2022 from 

  4. Captured March 6, 2022 from 

  5. Samuel Lerner would later be founder and partner of Lerner Ladds Bartels Architecture, still operating, now in Pawtucket RI.