Building on Distinction

Campus Development

Brown University is a dynamic center of research, teaching and extracurricular life housed in a rich and historic architectural setting.

Initially crafted with brick and mortar before the founding of the republic, the campus has grown and changed over nearly two and a half centuries to reflect the values and needs of the academic mission of the University at each stage of its development. The campus is beloved by members of its community. Its eclectic mix of architectural styles emphasizes the University’s long history as well as its forward-looking outlook. Its human scale and compact size supports intellectual exchange across disciplines and instills a sense of community among our members.

We have three overarching goals for the development of the Brown campus. One is to maintain the sense of intimacy and connectedness that characterizes our setting, while allowing for continued modest growth in the numbers of undergraduate, graduate students and faculty, and for changes in needs related to academics and other aspects of campus life. A second is to create a “virtual campus” that supports ties between members of the Brown community – faculty, students, staff, alumni and parents – despite their geographic dispersion. A third is to engage in responsible historical, fiscal, and environmental stewardship and sustainability.

College Hill will remain the core of undergraduate instruction and faculty research, as well as the center for extracurricular and athletic activities for undergraduates. Brown’s highly collaborative culture in which faculty work across academic boundaries and students are free to explore subject areas across the curriculum is facilitated by the physical proximity of classrooms, faculty, and academic support, within an easily walkable distance. However, land available for new construction on College Hill is increasingly scarce. Decisions about where programs should be located will be made carefully and deliberately. Priority for space on College Hill will be given to academic departments and programs that involve undergraduates, as well as to classrooms and services for students.

Our vision for Brown’s role in the Jewelry District is to be a partner in the development of a vibrant mixed-use environment with medical education, scientific research, administrative offices, residential space for graduate and medical students, and retail space. Brown’s development in the Jewelry District will accommodate the University’s growth in the coming years; free up space on College Hill for undergraduate-focused departments and programs; and contribute to the economic and cultural vitality of Providence and Rhode Island. Achieving this objective will require coordination between Brown, other universities, local government, and the private sector.

The development of the Jewelry District – and its connectivity to College Hill – requires a comprehensive transportation plan, including pedestrian and bicycle transportation. Initiatives that facilitate more effective physical transit between the two parts of our campus should be pursued, as should technological tools that make possible virtual meetings and other interactions with ease and predictability.

Although the Brown campus is a physical place that unites faculty, students, and staff in fulfillment of our mission, the Brown community occupies an equally vital and important virtual space that extends well beyond the confines of College Hill and the Jewelry District to all parts of the globe. Our goals and objectives for the Brown campus must also encompass the Brown community, particularly at a time when international experiences and understanding of global issues is essential to a well-educated citizenry. Virtual communication tools will be developed to further connect the Brown campus with the Brown community around the world.

Brown’s approach to construction, maintenance, and renewal of space will reflect the value of sustainability. We will prioritize the adaptive re-use and optimization of existing facilities. In addition, Brown’s space and infrastructure should serve as wide a range of activities and needs as possible through flexible and accessible design and efficient, adaptable use. We will seek out opportunities for collaboration and partnership with other institutions to share or co-develop space when possible, and we will respect the historic nature of our campus and communities.

Over the coming decade, the campus plan envisions the following major enhancements:

  • New buildings to house exceptional scholarly initiatives and promote interdisciplinary collaboration, including incremental space for the School of Engineering, the Alpert Medical School, and the Brown Institute for Brain Science;
  • New or renovated space for academic needs in the creative and performing arts;
  • Classroom space that is flexible, highly usable, and equipped with current and emerging technology to enhance teaching and learning;
  • Renovated space on College Hill for academic departments, centers, and new initiatives in space freed up by the movement of administrative functions to the Jewelry District;
  • Shared convening spaces spread throughout the campus that foster dynamic intellectual exchange among faculty and students from different departments;
  • Departmental and community space for graduate students that reflects the importance, nature, and excellence of master’s and doctoral education at the University;
  • Sharpe Refectory and a number of residence halls are long overdue for renovation, and growth in the campus population may require collaborations with private-sector developers to create additional housing for undergraduate and graduate students;
  • Space for student activities will be incorporated into new renovations and construction. Although significant investments in athletics facilities have been completed over the past two years, we will continue to focus on completing the improvements that were suggested during the 2011 review of Brown’s athletic programs.