Sciences Library (Brown University)

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Sciences Library
General information
Architectural styleBrutalist
Location201 Thayer Street, Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Coordinates41°49′37″N 71°24′00″W / 41.8269°N 71.4000°W / 41.8269; -71.4000Coordinates: 41°49′37″N 71°24′00″W / 41.8269°N 71.4000°W / 41.8269; -71.4000
Roof180 feet (55 m)
Technical details
Floor count15
Design and construction
ArchitectWarner, Burns, Toan & Lunde
DeveloperBrown University
Main contractorDimeo Construction Company

The Sciences Library, nicknamed the "SciLi" (pronounced “sigh-lie”), at Brown University is a high-rise building in Providence, Rhode Island built in 1971. At 180 feet (55 m), it is tied with One Citizens Plaza as the 16th-tallest building in the city. The building houses Brown University's primary on-campus collections that support study and research in the fields of Medicine, Psychology, Neural Science, Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, and Pure and Applied Mathematics. SciLi is also the home of the Science Center, the Writing Center, the Map Collection, the Interlibrary Loan office, and the Friedman Study Center. SciLi is one of five on-campus libraries which make up the University Library.

Completed in the Brutalist architectural style, the building is Brown University's primary science library. The school had been faced with the desire for vigorous expansion but had little real estate available, and the high-rise library was the school's solution.

Clashing with late 19th century and early 20th century colonial revival houses and abutting street-level shopping on Thayer Street, the Science Library is often seen as an imposing and obtrusive addition to College Hill. Architectural historian McKenzie Woodward condemns the building as "overwhelm[ing] everything around it", even comparing it to a Soviet-era Panelák when viewed from its "all-too-many distant viewing perspectives".

A 100-foot radio tower, erected in 1972, was removed from the building in 2005.[2]

Friedman Study Center[edit]

In 2006, the first and second floors and the basement of the Sciences Library underwent extensive renovations and were transformed into the Susan P. and Richard A. Friedman Study Center. The center includes a variety of seating, a cafe on the first floor, new computer clusters, and collaborative study rooms. This renovation was designed by Architecture Research Office, and structurally engineered by Leslie E. Robertson Associates.

Science Center[edit]

In 2010, the third floor was renovated to create the "Science Center", a facility that supports teaching and learning in the sciences. The Center houses academic mentoring and support programs and serves as the campus clearinghouse for information about research and fellowship opportunities at Brown and around the world.


  1. ^ Mitchell, Martha (1993). "Sciences Library". Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Providence, RI: Brown University Library. ASIN B0006P9F3C. Retrieved 2008-05-26.
  2. ^ "'100-foot tower removed from top of SciLi'". Brown Daily Herald. 20 October 2005. Retrieved 4 March 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Woodward, William McKenzie (2003). Guide to Providence Architecture (1st ed.). Providence, RI: Providence Preservation Society. p. 170. ISBN 0-9742847-0-X.

External links[edit]