NSU Brown Hall


Norfolk State University


Norfolk, Virginia


154,000 square feet

Completion Date:

In Progress

Project Description

Time and technology caught up with Norfolk State University’s beloved Brown Hall, originally built in 1955 at the heart of campus. Mindful of changing pedagogies of the 21st century classroom, NSU made the difficult decision to demolish the original building that served as library, cafeteria, classrooms and administrative offices to make way for a new G.W. C. Brown Hall truly representative of today’s learning and active learning environments.

The new three-story, 154,000 square foot Brown Hall opens in August as home to the College of Liberal Arts and the departments of Mathematics, Mass Communications & Journalism, Business, Social Work, Honors College and Title III offices.  The building hosts a variety of flexible classrooms, distance learning classrooms, computer labs, observation classrooms, meeting rooms, study areas, student lounges, audio and video editing suites, a TV studio, multipurpose black box theater, and a 368 seat theater. The South Lobby includes the Lobby Amphitheater, which accommodates small performances, presentations, and informal collaboration. The North Lobby includes a display gallery sharing the history of Brown Hall.

Key design concepts include opportunities for out-of-classroom instruction. Corridors become “learning nodes,” where students and professors collaborate informally before and after class. Learning moves outdoors with a second-story outdoor classroom and an outdoor amphitheater. Generous glass walls provide sweeping views to an academic quad that includes the Student Service Center, Student Union Center, Nursing & General Education Building and the Lyman Beecher Brooks Library. Nostalgic alumni will recognize the tribute to Brown Hall’s history in the new clock anchoring the building along Corprew Avenue.

WPA tapped an educational consultant to keep faculty, students, and administration involved in the design process, building a sense of ownership, modeling “Active Learning” techniques, and teaching professors how to incorporate advanced technology into teaching techniques and pedagogy. Additionally, more than 200 University stakeholders (professors, administrators, students and Facilities Management staff) were included in early design charrettes.


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