The new facility will help the University to achieve its goal of housing 80% of its undergraduate students in dormitories or residence halls, Paxson said. In conjunction with the housing available in the new health and wellness center and residence hall, the number of undergraduates living off campus will be reduced by approximately 30%.
Significant community collaboration and input shaped the project’s final plans, which include two “sister” buildings totaling 125,000 square feet with the capacity to house 353 students, publicly accessible and sustainable green space, adjacent retail space and the planned construction of a new residential home.
Aesthetically, the Brook Street residence hall fits into the context of the local neighborhood — similar to the adjacent Vartan Gregorian Quad and much of Brown’s historic campus, the exterior will primarily be made of brick, terra cotta and wood, with eco-friendly cross-laminated timber used in the interior structure.
Those interiors, designed to meet the needs of older undergraduate students while promoting a strong sense of community, will feature shared kitchens on each floor, with a series of suites, each comprised of four single bedrooms, a shared living room and restroom. The buildings will also include shared study, meeting and community spaces.
William Danoff, whose generous contributions with his wife Ami Kuan Danoff supported the project, said at the ceremony that the couple aims to focus on philanthropy that makes the biggest impact possible, and were thrilled by the prospect of many Brown students benefiting from the building in the years to come.
“We’re working together to make a better Brown, a better neighborhood, a better future and a better state,” Danoff said. “One of the lessons that I’ve learned over time is this notion of ‘living is giving and giving is living.’ Life is more meaningful when you share it, when you work together.”
The sentiment was echoed by the ceremony’s two other speakers, Scott Duhamel, secretary-treasurer of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, and Andrew Cortés, executive director of Building Futures, a Providence nonprofit that allows Rhode Islanders from all backgrounds to learn the fundamentals of a wide variety of construction trades without paying tuition or incurring debt.
The University has a longstanding partnership with Building Futures; over the last 15 years, 355 apprentices hired by Building Futures have logged hundreds of thousands of labor hours across 25 different construction projects at Brown.
“Brown leads by example,” Cortés said. “I cannot overstate the impact that our partnership with Brown has had not only for Building Futures graduates, but across the state. It means that 355 people who were experiencing poverty now have a middle-class life.”
In the last five projects alone, 50 Building Futures apprenticeship graduates started their new careers on the Brown campus, collectively putting in over 20,000 hours of labor.
The Brook Street residence hall will soon be a part of that group. “When we’re building Brown, we’re building careers,” Cortés said. “High-quality registered apprenticeships make sure that in each of the construction trades, post-secondary education is happening when we’re building the walls, and it happens behind the walls of Brown.”