Brown University

Science Library

Project at a Glance

Providence, RI


Architecture Research Office

Project Type


Project Overview

  • Program areas required acoustic treatment for controlled sound reflections
  • Work was completed in a fully occupied building that is open 24 hours per day
  • Transformed brutalist architecture into a community-based, modern space

Brown University’s 15-story brutalist tower–known as the Sciences Library and built in 1971–served to integrate the Biological and Physical Science’s libraries within one space. With eleven of the fifteen floors dedicated to stacks, the University sought to create a more flexible, community-centered space with the conversion of three floors into new program spaces including the Sheridan Center Innovation Lab, Social Sciences Lab and Language Center.

The re-purposing of the library included demolition and abatement, interior fit-out, swipe card access doors, new bathrooms and updated mechanical distribution on floors five through nine. Additionally, an audio booth and video studio required special acoustic treatment to minimize sounds reflection in the building. The project schedule was being phased to limit disturbances to the occupied library.