Time and technology caught up with Norfolk State University’s beloved Brown Hall, originally built in 1952 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 Memorial Hall truly representative of today’s learning and active learning environments.
WPA is now completing Construction Administration for the New Brown Hall to replace Norfolk State University’s first academic building. The new building is a three-story, 154,000 SF classroom and office building. It houses the following schools and departments: Math, Mass Communications and Journalism, Business, Liberal Arts (Political Science, Sociology, Psychology, History and Interdisciplinary Studies), Social Work, Honors College, and the 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, TV studio, multipurpose black box theater, and a theater that seats 373. The North Lobby includes a gallery for displays about the history of Brown Hall. The South Lobby includes the Lobby Amphitheater which accommodates small performances, presentations, and informal collaboration.
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 & Student Center Building, the Nursing & General Education Building, the Lyman Beecher Brooks Library and the Communication Towers. 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.