The vision for the new Glenn and Darcy Weiner Hillel Center began in 1995, when Hillel programs at Brown experienced substantial growth and the board of trustees recognized the need to expand the existing Rapaporte House. Fortuitously, the adjacent property became available and was acquired in 1996 with generous support from Alan Hassenfield, Fred Horowitz ’86, and the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island.
Inclusive planning and design committees were formed, and Earl R. Flansburgh & Associates, hired to develop a needs assessment and master plan, concluded that a second, contiguous property at 100 Angell Street was needed to insure ample space for the future. Hillel was able to purchase this property in 1998, thanks to the generous support of Marty Granoff ’93 and Gary Winnick ’00.
Architects Fred Babcock of Babcock Design Group and Cornelis de Boer of Haynes/de Boer Associates were engaged in 1997 to design an integrated facility accommodating the programmatic requirements. Their design encompasses the original structures connected by a compatible modern addition. In 2001, after a long review process due to the historic status of the buildings, the plan was granted regulatory and legal approval.
The new center, open in 2003, incorporates three historic structures – two late eighteenth-century Federal-style houses and the chalet-style Froebel Hall (1878) – into an expanded facility that provides Brown Hillel with more than 25,000 square feet for assembly, student activity, and administrative spaces. The center is designed to defer to the old structures and to be congruent with the residential scale and architectural character of the surrounding neighborhood. The facility also preserves the historic identity and essential integrity of the three existing buildings, provides worship access for all denominations, introduces universal access to all function rooms, and re-establishes the garden and terraces as open spaces suitable for outdoor functions and meditation.
Rose Euart Doherty In the mid 1950s Froebel Hall was used on Saturday nights for ballroom dancing lessons for grade school children like me. We learned to dance in that wonderful room on the second floor.
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