Brown University, Friedman Study Center

The 24-hour Friedman Study Center activates the base of Brown University’s Sciences Library, a brutalist 1960s concrete tower.

open reading lounge area with bright furniture and hanging dividers

The Study Center offers a ground floor café, mezzanine level study space, and an expansive underground level. Bright colors, contemporary furniture, landscaped courtyards, playful graphics, and a sophisticated plan enable this 24-hour study center to further Brown’s commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration.

sign that says zero decibels above students working together and writing on glass walls in study rooms
Translucent walls in the collaborative study rooms offer writable surfaces, while signage indicates permissible noise levels.
  • beta chain graphic printed on concrete wall near students working at computers
    Printed on the concrete across the Friedman Study Center are 50+ images and texts taken from books found in the university’s collections, with their call number and page number.
  • quote that says
  • students studies in front of green wall with a graphic that reads
    Graphics throughout the project invite students to further explore.

Characteristics of the existing building, such as board formed concrete and four sunken courtyards, are enhanced by new lighting, courtyard landscape design, and vibrant finishes.

yellow chair in front of glass looking into an enclosed garden
Brightly colored furniture and vivid patterns refer to the existing building’s 1960’s debut.

Organized around study activities and their corresponding noise volumes, the Study Center appeals to multiple modes of working. Several micro-environments, each furnished with a distinct identity, graduate through the space, defined by quieter individual activity to louder, collaborative work

axonometric plan of the Friedman Study Center
Diagram of the Study Center’s microenvironments of social and study spaces.
student reads behind dividers in lounge area

Our first of several projects at Brown University, we revisited the tower a decade later with our Sciences Library renovation.

Graphic Design: Open



2009 Society for Environmental Graphics, Merit Award

2008 AIA New York City, Honor Award for Interior Architecture

2008 Boston Society of Architects, Honor Award for Interior Architecture

2008 American Library Association, Best of Category, Small Academic Libraries

2007 Contract Magazine, Design Award

2007 Rhode Island Monthly, Design Award

Clog, Friedman Study Center, 2013