Giving to Brown

The Re-Dedication of Metcalf

On Friday, February 10, more than 100 members of the Brown Corporation and the Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) community came together to re-dedicate a building that, according to Professor Bertram Malle, “is (now) one where you open yourself up and you are excited and curious and you want to explore.”

The ceremony featured a welcome from Chancellor Tom Tisch ’76, remarks by Brown President Ruth J. Simmons and CLPS Chair William Heindel, and a short video recounting the unique challenges and impressive outcomes of this project. In addition, Associate Professor Michael Frank spoke briefly on his exploit (making decisions based on past success) vs. explore (choosing something new even given the high degree of uncertainty of success) studies—illustrating how CLPS relies on interdisciplinary approaches to deal with real world problems. A reception at the John Carter Brown Library rounded out the evening.

This building provides…a new energy and excitement that catapults us…into a different level. It’s awesome in every way possible.
— Professor Sheila Blumstein

The renovation incorporated two laboratories of historic importance: the Metcalf Chemistry Laboratory and Metcalf Research Laboratory. Key members of the newly merged CLPS department worked closely with Boston’s Leers Weinzapfel architects to structure an area that would enhance and facilitate their scholarship. The result? A building that was designed programmatically. “Functionally-related labs are located next to each other so people who are doing very similarly related work can have interactions,” says Professor Heindel.

Lounge areas and whiteboards on each of the four levels encourage collaboration among faculty and students “with several perspectives and complementary expertise in a range of areas in the study of mind, brain, language and behavior,” adds Professor Frank. And the now state-of-the-art Susan P. and Richard A. Friedman Auditorium and MacDougald Family Library—utilizing space claimed from a former stairwell—are praised as welcome additions.

“This building provides…a new energy and excitement that catapults us…into a different level,” says Professor Sheila Blumstein. “It’s awesome in every way possible.”

The renovation was begun in June 2010 as part of the Plan for Academic Enrichment.

Written by Catharine Beattie