As a key component of its strategic plan, Brown University’s framework for physical planning required an in-depth understanding of the university’s academic mission. Brown is famous both for its open curriculum in which undergraduates have great freedom of choice and the collaborative nature of its research activity. To better understand these patterns, we analyzed several social networks within the university. We used the interrelationships between course enrollments and academic departments to understand how students combine their studies and we mapped faculty research patterns across academic and partner units and core facilities. The resulting “galaxy diagrams” provided compelling insights into Brown’s academic world, with deep impacts on the physical environment. We built a financial model to better understand resource constraints and to explore the impacts of likely available funding, then combined our academic and financial considerations with detailed design investigations. We compiled datasets tracking mobility patterns, and related them to important activities like learning, studying, and collaborating; we measured the suitability of the existing building stock to support laboratory research; we analyzed how peer universities are physically arranged, focusing on which functions belong in the academic cores; we measured square footage capacity by identifying sites and adjusting for political realities; and we investigated Brown’s presence in the Jewelry District to see how key program and urban design moves could revitalize the neighborhood. We also completed a detailed precinct study for the university’s School of Engineering. The work resulted in a principle-driven flexible framework for decision-making that ensures mission drives the physical environment, and provides Brown staff with the tools they need as on-going stewards of an important historic campus.
DumontJanks team members led the development of the above project while employed by Sasaki Associates, Inc. DumontJanks is not associated with Sasaki.