The University completed renovations on several campus spaces — including the Sharpe Refectory, Graduate Center Tower C and the John Carter Brown Library — over the summer.
The Herald spoke to Facilities Management, Dining Services and the John Carter Brown Library regarding these recent changes.
Two dining halls — the Ratty and Josiah’s — welcomed students with new features this semester. According to Vice President for Dining Programs George Barboza, Dining Services has been planning these changes “over the last two years,” even though renovations for these dining halls officially began in April.
Over the summer, Dining Services built “three new kitchens and an enhanced dining platform” in the Ratty, Barboza wrote in an email to The Herald.
Among the three new kitchens, two are Kosher and one is allergy aware, Barboza wrote. The enhanced platform is only for Halal food offerings. “All of the kitchens will bring culinary production up to the main dining room in the (Ratty), where students can experience meals being prepared fresh and in front of them,” he added.
“With the additions of these kitchens and platforms, it will allow us to have an expanded variety of menu items,” he wrote, emphasizing that “nutrition and healthy options are an essential part of our menu engineering process.”
The Ratty is not the only dining hall that underwent renovations this summer. Jo’s “received a total refresh of the dining area including new flooring, ceilings and lighting,” Barboza wrote.
“Our goal in building these spaces is to provide a more inclusive dining experience for all students at the University,” he added.
The renovations were not without their challenges, Barboza wrote, noting that at times it could be difficult to juggle construction while still serving food. But Dining Services “managed through it effectively.”
Looking forward, the changes to Jo’s are not completely finished. Barboza wrote that students can look forward to “new furniture” in the near future and “a new BBQ concept” in the spring semester.
Renovations to the Graduate Center dorms officially began in June and aimed to address cosmetic and humidity issues at Grad Center Tower C, according to Michael Guglielmo Jr., vice president of facilities management.
Bathroom updates throughout Tower C included new flooring, toilets, toilet partitions, flush valves, sinks, faucets, drains and lighting, according to Guglielmo. The dorm’s kitchens received “comprehensive full-gut renovations” and the suites received new luxury vinyl tile flooring, carpet, shades and wall and door painting, as well as new doors with lighting, he added.
“We also installed a dehumidification system on the first floor and new exhaust roof fans,” Guglielmo added.
While changes focused on Tower C this summer, Tower D will also undergo renovations “scheduled to be completed during Summer 2024,” Guglielmo wrote in an email to The Herald. The dorm’s remaining towers will be “addressed subsequently.”
Completing the new Brook Street dorms, which house 351 beds, was also a priority for ResLife this summer. According to Guglielmo, construction began in January 2022 and aimed to address the needs of upperclassmen, “improve overall housing options” and “assist in Brown’s efforts to house an increasing share of its undergraduate students on campus.”
Natural light, operable windows, allergen kitchens and air conditioning are all features of the new residence halls that will “ensure a higher degree of user comfort,” Guglielmo wrote.
He emphasized that the dorms are “100% fossil fuel free in support of the University’s 2040 net-zero commitment, and designed to meet (U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver requirements as high-performance buildings.”
Although global supply chain challenges and tight timelines made these projects challenging, “the dedication and hard work of the project team” allowed ResLife to complete these projects in time for students arriving on campus, Guglielmo said.
Physical renovations also began at the John Carter Brown Library last November. Located on Brown’s campus since 1901, the JCB contains “world-leading materials focused on the full western hemisphere from the 15th through the 19th centuries,” according to its website.
The JCB reopened in May right before Commencement, coinciding with the full digitization of its collection as part of the library’s commitment to accessibility, according to Director and Librarian of the JCB Karin Wulf.
Changes included the construction of a curving walkway and putting the library’s historic wooden doors inside glass doors. Updates to the building’s entrance serve as “a larger welcome and access plan” that officially began in November 2021, Wulf said.
“We also have been so lucky in this renovation to have space for a student worker to sit and welcome visitors,” Wulf said, adding that the library receives hundreds of visitors monthly.
The library also underwent interior renovations, including adding new spaces for classes, meetings and exhibits, which Wulf said would help bring “more folks into the JCB.”
“We launched an exhibit called ‘1846,’ which is about (the) transparency around the origins” of the library’s collections, Wulf said, adding that visitors can see the exhibition as soon as they walk into the library.
“Getting students to engage with the primary materials is incredibly powerful,” Wulf said. “It helps you to understand how limited our perspective on this period really can be.”
There were also changes made to the Global Brown Center’s physical space to accommodate the expansion of the center, according to the GBC’s Sept. 6 newsletter. Changes included a reduced lounge area and the addition of an office which will “serve as an after-hours meeting room for student staff.”
A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that The Herald spoke with the Office of Residential Life, not Facilities Management. The Herald regrets the error.
Indigo Mudbhary is a University news senior staff writer covering student government. In her free time, she enjoys running around Providence and finding new routes.