Brown University

John Hay Library


After approximately one year of renovations and restoration, the beautiful John Hay Library was reopened to the Brown University community in September of 2014. A primary focus of the renovation was to return the main reading room, formerly subdivided into three sections, to its original layout and grandeur while at the same time improving its functionality for current and future needs of the students and faculty. Kohler Ronan created MEP designs in support of the architectural plans.

Project scope included the reconfiguration of the entry and improved circulation, expanded and dedicated study spaces including the main reading room, separate special collections area, enhanced exhibition gallery, consultation room, seminar spaces, student lounge, and wheel chair access on the northeast side of the building.

Kohler Ronan’s designs included a centralized humidification system, new HVAC controls throughout the building, repairs to ventilation systems, and updated electrical and lighting. The open floor plan of main reading room is lit by 16-feet-tall windows on three walls, as well as hanging pendants (based on the original 1910 fixtures), and desk top lamps. The 25-foot-high coffered ceilings and carved oak shelving have been restored. The sum total of the renovation is a truly gorgeous space now more conducive to expanded programs and contemporary use of the library.


LOCATIONProvidence, RI
ARCHITECTSelldorf Architects
SIZE4,416 square feet
COST$15 million

Photo credit: ©Warren Jagger Photography