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Coffee and couches: new campus center debuts

Blue Room returns after $20 million Faunce renovations

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 1, 2010

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any campus space with comfy couches and food must be in want of students. The Brown community’s enthusiastic adoption of the new Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center — completed after a year of extensive renovations to Faunce House — is no exception to the rule. Since its opening Aug. 16, a steady stream of community members have taken advantage of the Campus Center’s roomy interior spaces like the new Blue Room and the Leung Gallery to relax, meet with friends and eat. 

The main level features an open floor plan, a quiet reading area and an airy new Blue Room with more seating and food options. The upper floors of the Campus Center also bring together different administrative offices — like the Student Activities Office and the Curricular Resource Center — and student group offices — like Brown Student Agencies and Brown Student Radio — which had previously been scattered all around campus.

In the time before the start of classes, students have already begun using the center. “It looks very nice, but it’ll be interesting to see how it functions as a space,” Chase Huneke ’11 said.

The overarching goal of the new center is to help facilitate a greater “sense of community,” said Ricky Gresh, senior director for student engagement and chair of the Stephen Robert ’62 P’91 Campus Center planning committee. The Plan for Academic Enrichment, President Ruth Simmons’s strategy for improving undergraduate life at Brown, outlined a need for a campus center that would encourage more informal interaction between University students, faculty and staff, and help support students’ academic and co-curricular goals, Gresh said.

Five main priorities came out of the discussions during community forums and planning committee meetings, he said. Participants expressed the need for the eatery to have more seats and longer hours, a floor plan that created a sense of “arrival,” a feeling of community and more event and informal gathering spaces.

Donations by former University Chancellor Stephen Robert ’62 and several anonymous benefactors funded the renovation. A tuition surplus last year was used to fast-track the re-opening of Faunce to this August. Gresh said the renovation cost about $20 million.

“I used to come here, but just to pick up something from the Blue Room. Never to hang out, eat or do work,” said Edjola Ruci ’12. “Now it’s more modern and social. There are so many nice spaces. I think this will be the new spot on campus where everyone will fight to get a table. It’s going to be interesting to see how long the couches remain clean, though.”

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