Launch Slideshow

Secondfloor office enclosure.

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World

Rhode Island Hall, an august 1840s Greek Revival structure at Brown University, is a major chess piece on the main quad, with one entrance opening onto the green and the other toward town.

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World

Rhode Island Hall, an august 1840s Greek Revival structure at Brown University, is a major chess piece on the main quad, with one entrance opening onto the green and the other toward town.

  • Secondfloor office enclosure.

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    Secondfloor office enclosure.

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    Peter Vanderwarker

    Second-floor office enclosure.

  • On the doubleheight second floor the design team created an office enclosure out of plywood and translucent glass. This allows the surrounding library space to serve as a lively research and social area without creating distractions for those at work. The architects achieved the pleated form of the enclosure by creating a variety of cutting patterns for the wooden fins and by allowing for coordinating seams in the glass. Two pieces of glass were used in each vertical panel to accommodate the bend.

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    On the doubleheight second floor the design team created an office enclosure out of plywood and translucent glass. This allows the surrounding library space to serve as a lively research and social area without creating distractions for those at work. The architects achieved the pleated form of the enclosure by creating a variety of cutting patterns for the wooden fins and by allowing for coordinating seams in the glass. Two pieces of glass were used in each vertical panel to accommodate the bend.

    600

    Peter Vanderwarker

    On the double-height second floor, the design team created an office enclosure out of plywood and translucent glass. This allows the surrounding library space to serve as a lively research and social area without creating distractions for those at work. The architects achieved the pleated form of the enclosure by creating a variety of cutting patterns for the wooden fins, and by allowing for coordinating seams in the glass. Two pieces of glass were used in each vertical panel to accommodate the bend.

  • The screen is composed of 1by6inch walnut veneer planks.

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    The screen is composed of 1by6inch walnut veneer planks.

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    Peter Vanderwarker

    The screen is composed of 1-by-6-inch walnut veneer planks.

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    Courtesy Anmahian Winton Architects

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    Courtesy Anmahian Winton Architects

  • On the second floor the screen doubles as a sunshade and a spatial divider between a reading room and the circulation pathways.

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    On the second floor the screen doubles as a sunshade and a spatial divider between a reading room and the circulation pathways.

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    Jane Messinger

    On the second floor, the screen doubles as a sunshade and a spatial divider between a reading room and the circulation pathways.

  • The screen is a recurring theme throughout the interior warping to create small rooms without cutting off visual access and serving as spot sunshading underneath the existing skylights over workstations.

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    The screen is a recurring theme throughout the interior warping to create small rooms without cutting off visual access and serving as spot sunshading underneath the existing skylights over workstations.

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    Peter Vanderwarker

    The screen is a recurring theme throughout the interior, warping to create small rooms without cutting off visual access and serving as spot sunshading underneath the existing skylights over workstations.

  • The doubleheight second floor is the social heart of the building where students and faculty can casually meet and mix on the stairs.

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    The doubleheight second floor is the social heart of the building where students and faculty can casually meet and mix on the stairs.

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    Jane Messinger

    The double-height second floor is the social heart of the building, where students and faculty can casually meet and mix on the stairs.

  • On the doubleheight second floor students and faculty can meet and mix in the research space perched atop the office enclosure.

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    On the doubleheight second floor students and faculty can meet and mix in the research space perched atop the office enclosure.

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    Peter Vanderwarker

    On the double-height second floor, students and faculty can meet and mix in the research space perched atop the office enclosure.

  • In the same vein the architects preserved the buildings legacy as a natural history museum by creating new exhibition spaces on either side of the main entry.

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    In the same vein the architects preserved the buildings legacy as a natural history museum by creating new exhibition spaces on either side of the main entry.

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    Jane Messinger

    In the same vein, the architects preserved the building's legacy as a natural history museum by creating new exhibition spaces on either side of the main entry.

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    Courtesy Anmahian Winton Architects

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    Courtesy Anmahian Winton Architects

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    Courtesy Anmahian Winton Architects

  • The architects left signs of the building as it existed beforeframed reveals in the new walls allow students to see through to the original stone walls of the 1840s structure.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp32BF%2Etmp_tcm20-359888.jpg

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    The architects left signs of the building as it existed beforeframed reveals in the new walls allow students to see through to the original stone walls of the 1840s structure.

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    Warren Jagger

    The architects left signs of the building as it existed before—framed reveals in the new walls allow students to see through to the original stone walls of the 1840s structure.

Rhode Island Hall, an august 1840s Greek Revival structure at Brown University, is a major chess piece on the main quad, with one entrance opening onto the green and the other toward town. Prominent by location and distinguished by its stylistic purity, it is also singular for a stucco façade (which simulates limestone) on the brick campus.

Because of the building’s iconic status at the university, all eyes were on Anmahian Winton Architects of Cambridge, Mass., when it was asked to reinvent the 15,000-square-foot interior of the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World. The exterior had been restored a decade before, but the interior, compromised by many jerrymandered changes over decades, demanded restructuring and a gut renovation.

Compounding the expectations was the archaeologists’ request that the architects dust off the image of their field with an up-to-date interior that would attract faculty and graduate students. The design also fosters an environment that encourages spontaneous exchanges between scholars. The clients perceived architecture as an instrument for defining the institution and enhancing its competitive academic position.

The structure originally was designed as a natural history museum with specimen display cabinets in a daylit, top-floor space. Along with the restored shell and a sound roof, the architects inherited five massive skylight openings whose luminosity would be the only constant after the floors were removed and the structure taken back to the rubble walls. “Over the years, the spaces were closed in and chopped up, but the [skylights] on the top floor were intact,” principal Nick Winton—who designed the project with partner Alex Anmahian—says. “The genesis of the design was how to distribute and manage that light.”

It was the rare interiors commission with a strong mission, a distinguished existing building, and a mandate to build inside from the ground up. The program itself called for classrooms, a lecture hall that could double as an event space, and faculty and administrative offices. “They wanted niches for artifact display,” notes Winton, “but they were clear about being perceived as an active research facility, not a museum.” The architects organized the program so that the most appropriate spaces would occupy the luminous second floor. Conceptually, the vector of the design went from the high-ceilinged ground floor up through a core staircase to the light.

Winton and Anmahian, working with project manager Aaron Bruckerhoff, deployed the administrative offices, common room, and lecture hall on the ground floor, and set the new ceiling at a generous 12 feet. The architects saved the second floor for the faculty offices, library, lounge, and student research space. The library rings the perimeter of this double-height space, and the offices—in a translucent glass enclosure—form a glass-walled island centered in the large room. The cluster of offices acts as a podium for a mezzanine designed as an open graduate student research studio directly under the skylights.

The architects orchestrated the basic rudiments of architecture—a core staircase, overlooks, pooled space, glass walls—to socialize the interior and keep it from becoming a den of isolated and isolating cubicles and offices. But there is a material corollary to their socializing strategy. Throughout both floors, the architects built screens made of slender, 1-by-6-inch, walnut-veneered fins that separate spaces without closing them. Their porosity allows spatial flow and visual access while giving the spaces definition.

The twist, however, is in their twist. At strategic moments in the plan, the screens warp, creating peeling planes that dynamize walls and spaces within the static confines of the original stone shell. Designed and fabricated with digital files, the screens are geometrically complex, but were not difficult or prohibitively expensive to craft.

The Greek Revival shell represents the progressive thinking of its time, and the screens inflect the stately shell with the grace and intelligence of our own day. The design is progressive without being conspicuously radical. And no one can mistake this digitally driven interior for a musty museum that houses a staid academic department. The dynamic interiors imply a dynamic institution.


Project Credits

Project Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World, Providence, R.I.
Client/Owner Brown University
Architect Anmahian Winton Architects, Cambridge, Mass.—Nick Winton (principal-in-charge); Alex Anmahian (consulting principal); Aaron Bruckerhoff (project manager); Joel Lamere (project architect); Makoto Abe (project designer); Aaron Stavart, Esther Chung, Sabah Corso (project team)
Mechanical/Electrical Engineer RDK Engineers
Structural Engineer Richmond So Engineers
Geotechnical engineer GZA
Construction Manager/General Contractor Shawmut Design & Construction
Landscape Architect Hines Wasser Associates
Lighting Designer Lam Partners
Size 15,000 square feet
Cost $8 million

Material & Sources

Carpet Lees Carpets leescarpets.com
Ceilings Certainteed (Ecophon) certainteed.com; Armstrong Ceilings armstrong.com
Doors Monarch Industries monarchinc.com; Skyfold skyfold.com
Flooring Natural Cork naturalcork.com
Furniture Steelcase steelcase.com; Neudorfer neudorfer.com; Cabot Wrenn cabotwrenn.com
Glass Oldcastle Glass oldcastle.com
HVAC York york.com
Insulation Demilec demilec.com; Certainteed certainteed.com
Lighting Control Systems Lutron lutron.com
Lighting Ledalite ledalite.com; Lightolier lightolier.com; IO LED iolighting.com; Prudential prulite.com; Bartco bartcolighting.com; Focal Point focalpointlights.com; Vode vode.com
Metal Capco Steel Corp. capcosteelco.com; Newark Wire Works newarkwireworks.com
Millwork Monarch Industries monarchinc.com
Paints and finishes Benjamin Moore benjaminmoore.com
Site and landscape products Yard Works yardworksri.com
Structural system Capco Steel Corp. capcosteelco.com
Wayfinding Malcolm Grear Designers mgrear.com; Sunshine Sign Co. sunshinesign.com