Brown University – new residence halls knitted into the surrounding fabric

Providence, RI
125,000 SF
All-Electric, Hybrid CLT
Type: Academic

On the southeastern edge of Brown University’s campus, the all-electric Brook Street Residence Halls provide an inviting residential community that will re‑shape Brown’s connection to its surrounding neighborhood. Born out of an institutional goal to expand on-campus housing options for undergraduates, the 125,500 SF residence halls add 353 beds and an improved public pedestrian experience along an important north-south corridor in Providence’s East Side.

Hugging both sides of Brook Street, the pair of buildings strengthen connections between existing campus residences and the Fox Point neighborhood alike. Well-composed volumes and sloped roof lines temper the scale of the building, taking their cues from the pitched roofs found across Providence. A distilled palette of brick, terracotta and wood complements and draws from the immediate context.

Interwoven with new, publicly accessible green spaces, the residence halls offer spaces for living alongside places to socialize, study, and gather, inside and out. Within the dorms, light-filled corridors are punctuated with kitchen spaces and small nooks—warm, inviting spaces to encourage spontaneous conversations and gatherings. Social spaces are located at corners and towards Brook Street for views out while animating the building facades at street level, reinforcing connections between the interior and exterior. Planted with native sedges and a mixture of heritage and resilient tree species, the sequence of green spaces will also perform year-round as a stormwater management system.

Behind the scenes, the project’s all-electric, high-performance design employs a hybrid steel and cross-laminated timber structure to minimize the environmental impact of both the residence hall and the construction process. It contributes to the university’s de-carbonization pledge of cutting campus greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2040. An integrated design-build project delivery approach ensured that material, labor, and maintenance costs are an equally considered part of a holistic sustainability strategy.

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We deliberately designed spaces that are open ended and invite use – light-filled places where people can feel a sense of ownership. This approach promotes a sense of belonging that is so important to forming community on campuses today.

Noah Biklen, Senior Principal

From the brick selected for the exterior to a roofline that is both distinctive in aesthetic but takes its inspiration from the pitched roof landscape that characterizes many Providence locations, the design choices envisioned to date are focused on creating a space that complements the surrounding neighborhood.

Craig Barton, University Architect, Brown University


Architect and Interior Designer

Landscape Architect

Odeh Engineers
Structural Engineer

Vanderweil Engineers
Design MEP Engineer

Woodard & Curran
Civil Engineer

One Lux
Lighting Designer

The Green Engineer
Sustainability Consultant


Design Awards of Excellence
SARA NY Design Awards, 2024

Architectural Record
November 2023

Context & Drawings