News, University News

Friedmans donate $24 million to renovate, rename Wilson Hall

Renovated hall to include larger classrooms with tiered seating, new social spaces upon completion fall 2018

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A $24 million grant will fund the upcoming renovation of Wilson Hall, which will be renamed Friedman Hall in recognition of its donor, the Richard A. and Susan P. Friedman Family Foundation, according to an April 4 University press release.

The University will begin renovations in June and expects to complete the improvements by fall 2018. The construction project aims to create a fully accessible building while maintaining its historic 1891 exterior. Two new entryways will be available via the Main Green and the Ruth J. Simmons Quadrangle. The building has been notoriously inaccessible for years, The Herald previously reported.

Upon completion, seven classrooms across three floors will replace the numerous classrooms and meeting rooms that currently occupy Wilson. All classrooms will feature new technology and a mix of tiered and flat seating. Most of the classrooms will seat between 50 and 100 students, with the exception of a smaller seminar room that will seat 24.

In the release, Dean of the College Maud Mandel said that the new classrooms will allow for larger lectures.

“This will change the type of instruction that can take place in the building,” Mandel said in the release. “Classes of this size create some challenges for Brown right now — we have a variety of courses of this size but not enough classroom space to accommodate them.”

“This generous gift from the Friedman family will transform a venerable building into a modern, accessible teaching and learning space,” said President Christina Paxson P’19 in the release.

Donor Richard Friedman ’79, a fellow of the Corporation, said in the press release that Wilson plays a crucial role on campus as it hosts vast numbers of students in its centrally located rooms.

Nick Winton ’ 85, chief architect of Anmahian Winton Architects, will design the renovations. University Architect Collette Creppell said the renovations will foster interactions within the building by creating new interior social spaces, such as a 900-square-foot room on the first floor.

The new space will “encourage interactions between students and faculty or students and other students both during the day or after,” said Brian Clark, University director of news and editorial development.

“We’re recapturing little eddies of social space throughout the building, some of them small-scale near classroom entrances and exits,” Creppell said in the release. “The first-floor social commons will serve as a very open, accessible area for students to gather.”

The University will continue to honor the building’s previous benefactor, George Francis Wilson, through a named professorship and a plaque honoring Wilson and the building’s history, according to the release.

The Friedmans’ gift will continue supporting the space by funding the maintenance of the building, according to the release.

The University will also rename other locations on campus in honor of the Friedman Foundation. The Friedman Auditorium in the Metcalf Research Building will be renamed the Susan Pilch Friedman and Todd David Pilch Auditorium, paying tribute to Susan Friedman’s deceased brother Todd Pilch ’83.

While renovations for Friedman Hall take place, the University will implement a new class schedule and utilize smaller seminar rooms in academic department buildings.

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  1. Blank Name says:

    will they chisel “WILSON” off the front of the building? i applaud the donors for their gift, but that would be a sucky thing to do historic preservation wise.

    • blondiegoodgirl says:

      ^most likely yes, that is what full-of-themselves donors usually do when they wave their money around just to seem important

      • Ron Ruggieri says:

        A close friend ‘s aunt married an Alpert. When she died a few years ago she left a legacy to the Alpert Medical School- for brain research. My friend was living in a broken down LIncoln Town car- HIS brain breaking down- when he asked her for help. Is a NAME ON THE WALL any substitute for ordinary humanity ?

    • Ron Ruggieri says:

      Glancing at the Brown Daily Herald headline I at first thought this was all about ” identity politics ” revenge on PRESIDENT Woodrow Wilson. But still does not a decent respect for past generations make these erratic and arrogant name changes just plain RUDE ?

  2. Let’s not everyone get carried away. This isn’t Princeton’s Wilson. The naming tradition isn’t any different today than it was in 1803 when Brown took the name ‘Brown.’ Thanks for the generous gift, Friedman family.

    For preservation buffs, the building can have a variety of flashy new signs in addition to the historical one above the door.

    ‘Wilson Hall was built through the bequest of businessman George Francis Wilson for the use of the Physics Department. In partnership with Harvard Professor Eben Horsford, Wilson operated the Rumford Chemical Works which manufactured chemical products and related equipment.’ -Encyclopedia Brunonia

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