The Watson Institute for International Studies


On May 12, 2002, The Watson Institute’s new building at 111 Thayer Street was dedicated. The three-story, 56,000-square-foot structure consolidates the Institute’s programs once dispersed across five Brown University campus locations into one place.

Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects PC, New York and built by Gilbane Construction Company of Providence, Rhode Island, the building was completed in December 2001, a period of approximately 18 months from the initial site work. On January 8, 2002, the Institute research faculty and staff moved into 111 Thayer Street. By the beginning of the spring semester, the building was fully operational.

The building project’s total cost of $24.7 million had been raised from generous donors to the Watson Institute and to Brown University. Ronald D. Margolin, vice president of Brown’s Office of International Advancement and Volunteer Engagement, spearheaded the building campaign, which by January 2002, had reached 97 percent of its goal.

Significant features include:

  • Four state-of-the-art University classrooms; two seminar rooms with 20-seat capacity, and two with 24-seat capacity
  • Offices for five undergraduate concentrations: International Relations, Development Studies, Center for Latin American Studies, Middle East Studies, and South Asian Studies
  • More than 80 offices to accommodate researchers and staff
  • Media space for receiving worldwide news broadcasts
  • Joukowsky Family Forum: State-of-the-art video conferencing facility with simultaneous translation capability
  • McKinney Conference Room: For Institute seminars, conferences, and workshops
  • Birkelund Board Room
  • Starr Plaza: The largest new public green space on campus
  • Energy Smart: Conservation measures reduce CO2 emissions by 60+ metric tonnes annually

The design seeks to maximize interaction among researchers mainly by organizing circulation in a triple height atrium that runs through the center of the building and bathes the interior in natural light. The glass blocks off the back of the building are its two meeting spaces, while one also doubles as a library and reading room. Book look out into the grassy courtyard, and over some surrounding historic houses in its East Side location.

rudysdad  Brown U continues its uglification campaign against the East Side…

The information about each building grows as visitors let us know about their experiences. Did you or a member of your family work here? Did you grow up near it as a child? Let us know. All entries will be moderated and may be posted in an edited form. We will use your name unless you tell us otherwise. We will not make your email public.

Color 1 Color 2 Color 3