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180 George Street at Brown University for Center for Computation and Visualization

The Brown Computing Laboratory at 180 George Street was built in honor of Thomas J. Watson, Sr. as a gift to Brown from his wife and son. The building, completed in 1961, was originally constructed to house the IBM 7070 computer, the most advanced computing system on the east coast at the time. Architect Philip Johnson was chosen to design a building that would appropriately link the architectural past of College Hill with the future of emerging technology.

Over time the landmark modern building had been compromised by interior alterations. In order to restore the Computing Laboratory to its original intent, the curtain wall system was replaced, the rooftop mechanical equipment removed, and the lobby restored, while making it a truly functional space for the academic department.

The lobby in particular was poorly utilized as it was bisected by a low ceiling. Through computer visualization, LLB was quickly able to generate possibilities that solved both the solar gain issues and the proportional irregularities of the space. Incorporation of a floating L-shaped “canopy” gives the conference room appropriate scale and intimacy while preserving the look of the exterior curtain wall. This process of visualization allowed the client to be a part of the process, working in dialogue to develop an appropriate design.

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