Breaking news! Brown has just issued an announcement that it will shift its proposed performing arts center a block north, saving four historic buildings from demolition. The new site, between Angell and Olive streets rather than Waterman and Angell, requires no demolitions, only the relocation of the Sharpe House (1874) to a site next to the Peter Green House, relocated in 2007. Brown initially rejected the new site as too small.
Brown deserves applause for withdrawing a proposal that would have demolished four houses (including the Lucien Sharpe Carriage House, now the UEL) and relocated one, in effect destroying an entire block of history.
Brown would not have changed its mind were it not for powerful opposition from the local community, led by the Providence Preservation Society. The society, community organizations and other interested individuals and groups who rallied against the proposal did their jobs well. These included many from the Brown community itself.
The new site is smaller, but because it is not located over the tunnel, more activities can be housed beneath the center. It will sit directly across The Walk from the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, the accordion struck by an earthquake that went up in 2011. The performing arts center will still be designed, it appears, by REX, of New York.
Now if only Brown can only get Joshua Prince-Ramus, the founder of REX, to embrace the challenge of making the building look as if it belongs on College Hill. His mentor was Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, so anything is possible.
Anything? Well, okay, probably not that. But this state’s motto is “Hope.”