Providence Puts Focus on Making a Home for Knowledge

Ann McClure's picture
Thursday, December 15, 2011

When Brown University opened its new $45 million medical school in August about a mile from its campus here, it was the institution’s first academic department to be located away from its home on College Hill overlooking downtown Providence.

Brown’s reasons were twofold: there was little room on its campus for a building large enough for an Ivy League medical school, and it would bolster a 360-acre so-called Knowledge District that would draw high-tech, high-wage jobs to Rhode Island, which was among the hardest-hit states in the recession.

The Warren Alpert Medical School is in a converted, four-story, 134,000-square-foot factory building that dates to 1928 and was once used to make watchbands. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony in August, Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said that the Speidel Twist O Flex watchband was a Rhode Island innovation, and likened it to plans for the state’s biotech industry.

“The future is the double helix,” Mr. Reed said, “and that’s what this building is going to allow.”

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