John J. Bowen Center For Science & Innovation

A brand-new Johnson & Wales facility and the first project to break ground where I-195 used to be

About this Property


Johnson & Wales (JWU) started working with the city on acquiring a portion of the land that would be ready for development in the early 2000s. The land was purchased in 2012 for $3.9 million.1 Once the land was cleared and utilities were hooked up, JWU eagerly began construction on a $42 million, 71,000 square foot new home for their School of Engineering & Design and biology program. The building is named after the University chancellor.

JWU won exclusive rights to purchase the former highway land as part of the legislation that created the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. The commission is charged with overseeing the developing of 17 parcels, but the commission has no jurisdiction over the JWU parcels.2

While it was a sweat heart deal, the state allowed the University to purchase only two irregularly-shaped parcels adjacent to land it already owned. JWU had their eyes set on a third parcel, but the legislature thought this “gateway” parcel was too lucrative to earmark for a deal before they hit the open market.3

Design Reception

We couldn’t find any opinions from the usual suspects about this building (we are referring to David Brussat and Will Morgan). If our opinion means anything, we like it. Its modern, but not cold. Its contextual in that is is not larger than its neighbors or garish in its cladding. The lines are clean, simple, and classic. The courtyard between this building and the former Swedish Workingman’s Association building is especially nice, breaking up the street façades and offering a protected pocket of outdoor space. As more garish buildings around it are built on the former highway land, we think this premier building got the tonality of modernity correct.



Design team: Edward Rowse Architects, Inc., Dimeo Construction (Construction Manager), Odeh Engineers (Structural Engineering), Thorton Tomasetti (LEED Consultant), Woodard & Curran (Civil Engineering), BR+A (M/E/P/FP Engineering), Birchwood Design Group (Landscape Architect)

[…] The space consists of four science labs; 19 classrooms including technology and computer labs; presentation space; faculty offices; and a café. They all combine to create a collaborative and interdisciplinary learning environment. The lobby is used as a gallery to display project work and host events. At street level is an Innovation Laboratory / Maker’s Space featuring wide windows with display areas that enable pedestrians to see in; it is an active engineering lab.

[…] The design creates a central hub on campus where students and faculty come together and benefit from a variety of spaces to meet, collaborate on projects, and use the technology resources for hands-on learning. The building aims to achieve LEED Silver certification and comply with National Grid’s Advanced Buildings Program for increased energy efficiency.4

In the News

First 195 facility points to R.I.’s future

by Mim L. Runey, President, Providence Campus of Johnson & Wales University
Providence Journal | September 1, 2016 (abridged)

Today, the vision of what public-private partnerships can mean to our economic well-being becomes reality.

After nearly 15 years of planning and collaborating with the State of Rhode Island and City of Providence, Johnson & Wales University will open the first completed building constructed on land made available with the realignment of Interstate 195. The new $42 million, 71,000 square foot John J. Bowen Center for Science and Innovation houses the university’s School of Engineering & Design and its biology program and offers current and prospective students an attractive and welcoming environment to pursue an education in the high demand fields of science and technology.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 37 percent growth of information security analysts from 2012 to 2022 in manufacturing, defense, public administration, health-care and retail trade industries. We recognize that the market demand in these fields is exponential and this fall our School of Engineering & Design will offer a new bachelor of science degree in Cyber Threat Intelligence & Defense. In this program students will learn to track, analyze and counter digital security threats such as identity theft, viruses and the infiltration of government and business networks. […]

Providence and Rhode Island are becoming attractive locations for companies offering jobs in science and technology. GE Digital recently announced its plans to move to Providence. This is expected to create 100 new jobs that will require educated and skilled workers. We are committed to strengthening our region by serving as a direct link between the governor’s computer science initiative and our local job market. Our brand of experiential learning encourages collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving and helps students enter the workforce ready to compete in the marketplace.

This significant investment would not be possible without the foresight, persistence and leadership of JWU’s chancellor, John Bowen. Named in his honor, the John J. Bowen Center for Science and Innovation recognizes his years of exemplary service to the university and the work he will continue to do as Chancellor to ensure a secured future for Johnson & Wales. We are proud to be the first to construct a new facility on the Interstate 195 land. We hope that this investment encourages others to develop on the surrounding parcels and contribute to our state’s knowledge economy.

We in higher education have an enormous responsibility to educate and prepare our students for careers, citizenship and community. Since 1914, when our founders Gertrude I. Johnson and Mary T. Wales, launched their innovative experiential learning model, the university has given students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the marketplace. As market demand changes to meet the needs of employers, Johnson & Wales adapts, preparing its graduates entering the workforce.

“First 195 facility points to R.I.’s future.” Providence Journal (RI), sec. RI Opinion, 1 Sept. 2016, p. 15. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 19 Feb. 2022.

  1. BRAMSON, KATE. “Providence | JWU to expand on Route 195 land.” Providence Journal (RI), 1 ed., sec. News, 3 Sept. 2014, p. MAIN_01. NewsBank: America’s News, Accessed 19 Feb. 2022. 

  2. Ibid. 

  3. Ibid. 

  4. “John J. Bowen Center For Science And Innovation.”, captured February 19, 2022 from