Arnold LaboratoryThe view from the top of the Arnold Laboratory was made for people-watching. Stepping out onto the iron fire escape, yields sightlines into every east-facing window of the Building for Environmental Research and Teaching in front as well as views of busy students crossing Waterman Street on the right and the entirety of Simmons Quad on the left. Slideshow by Kiki Barnes
Barus and HolleyThe Seekonk River Bridge can be seen peeking out over a beautiful green tree line from the rooftop of Barus and Holley. Equally exquisite sights from this roof are the tip of Sayles Hall in front of the downtown skyline to the West and the Providence River to the South.
Building for Environmental Research and TechnologyThe Building for Environmental Research and Teaching is one of the more picturesque rooftops on Brown’s campus in more ways than one. The sky reflecting off the glass panes of the expansive greenhouse is mesmerizing in itself, and that is before gazing beyond to the Providence River in the distance. Other highlights from this vantage point include a clear shot of “The Walk” and Circle Dance sculpture, a peek of the Main Green and a view all the way down Waterman Street. A few feet below on the walkway around the greenhouse offers a glimpse of Simmons Quadrangle and the adjacent construction site. Those on the walkway below are also treated to a lovely scene inside the building of the warm lights shining on the plethora of potted plants.
Brown Office BuildingAtop the layers of offices above the Brown Bookstore is a sight not published in any textbook. The roof of the Brown Office Building is the perfect place for watching locals stroll inside the Avon Cinema, workers constructing the new building at 257 Thayer and sneaker-clad students walking inside the Nelson Fitness Center almost half a mile away. This spot offers a rare glimpse of the entire Thayer Street drag that extends to the twirling wind generators on the Providence River.
Center for Information TechnologyThe fifth-floor patio of the Center for Information Technology is not a rooftop, but it does provide a wonderful aerial view of the Manning Walkway and SciLi Desert. With cast iron tables and chairs, this location is the perfect respite for the computer science concentrator looking to take a break from long hours of coding in the Sun Lab. But the best part about this place — it is open to everyone.
200 DyerFrom the two-story-high roof of 200 Dyer Street — home of the Office of Admission and Office of Continuing Education —the extensive downtown construction is hard to ignore. The building is almost entirely surrounded by construction sites, evidence of the significant investment and expansion on the part of institutions like the University. But construction aside, 200 Dyer’s location right at the bank of the Providence River offers a picturesque sight. Rows of redbrick buildings reflect on the surface of the water as it extends down to the bay with College Hill as a backdrop.
Stephen Robert '62 Campus CenterFrom outside of J. Walter Wilson across Waterman Street, a glance up reveals a chain link fence enclosing an arched staircase and a small balcony. Visitors need keys to navigate the layers of rusted padlocks, but standing on top of Faunce at the edge beyond the fence offers a perfect, unobstructed view of the Main Green.
GeoChemThe best part about the fourth-floor terrace of the GeoChem building is that anyone can head there to sit at the frosted-glass tables and metal chairs. On a clear day, the sun shining off of nearby shingled rooftops provides a look at the residential side of College Hill, and all of Brook Street is visible, extending to the bright blue waterfront.
The Graduate CenterSix stories of the Vartan Gregorian Quad buildings block much of the view from the roof of Graduate Center Tower E. But from the right angle, the Providence River emerges from between two trees and the SciLi, as always, is in perfect view.
The Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative ArtsGranoff has a hidden treasure on its rooftop: a garden. The presence of these small, colorful shrubberies stumped even Facilities Management workers — they can only be seen from windows inside a locked mechanical room on the sixth floor. Beyond the red and green surprise at this location is a wonderful glimpse of College Hill. Angell Street disappears into the horizon from both ends, and the rooftop offers views of the south side waterfront and all of east campus.
J. Walter WilsonNot many have heard the friendly voice of the J. Walter Wilson Elevator announce, “sixth floor.” It requires special swipe access to reach the hundreds of pipes, wires and grumbling machines that line the building’s top floor. But after a short climb outside two steel doors, an incredible view awaits. The 360-degree walkway at the building’s top makes visible miles up and down Waterman Street. On one side, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority buses disappear inside the Thayer Street tunnel, and on the other, they arrive at Kennedy Plaza a few minutes later. Though not as tall as the Sciences Library, JWW offers a more intimate panorama of College Hill.
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Ladd ObservatoryThe view from the balcony of the Ladd Observatory is not much to boast about. Being just one flight of stairs above ground level, little is visible far beyond the railing. The most interesting sight is the large metal dome that encloses the observatory’s very impressive telescope. But this historic national landmark provides a much more spectacular view during Tuesday night’s open hours, when visitors can gaze through the telescope at the night sky.
List Art CenterRumor has it the rows of skylights that form List’s jagged facade used to provide overhead views of the fifth-floor painting studios. Not much is visible through the covered windows now, but the trip up the back staircase to reach the roof is rewarding in other ways. The Rhode Island State House is in its full, shining marble glory from this vantage point — as well as miles of the Providence cityscape behind it. From the opposite end over the top of the John Hay Library, Carrie Tower and the SciLi peak above the rest of Brown’s campus like beacons.
295 Lloyd (Facilities Management)“Home sweet home,” said Facilities Management worker Frank Fratarelli as he approached his department’s office at 295 Lloyd Street. Located behind Ittleson Quadrangle and next to the complex of sports fields, the top of this building overlooks a sea of green. Grass, turf and trees compose a residential and athletic picture that can’t be beat from any other campus building.
Alpert Medical SchoolThe University’s downtown campus is anchored around the Med School building at 222 Richmond Street. From the expansive terrace on the sixth floor, College Hill is visible in its entirety as it rises above the city. The Providence River runs past a wasteland of construction sites at the foot of the hill, but it is easy to look past the dirt to the beautiful multi-colored collection of buildings and trees above. Anyone can take a shuttle ride downtown to see this campus view.
Metcalf Chemistry and Research LaboratoryThe finest place to view Simmons Quad — formerly Lincoln Field — is from the roof of Metcalf. This long, white-trimmed rooftop provides the perfect spot for watching sunbathers and busy professors and students heading toward the Main Green on a beautiful day. The Rhode Island State House peeks above a line of trees from behind J. Walter Wilson on the other side of the building, along with a clear view of The Walk leading to Pembroke campus.
Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness CenterThe picturesque clock tower topping the Jonathan Nelson ’77 Fitness Center is inaccessible unless you bringwithout a quite large ladder — not even pigeons can reach the netted-in opening above the timepiece. But the secondary roof is a sight to be seen. The rows of solar panels on top of this building are spectacular with sunlight gleaming off of them. Though not much else can be seen beyond the clock tower besides the sports complex and surrounding trees, the environmentally friendly, technological glory of this rooftop is its own view.
Olney-Margolies Athletic CenterThe top of the OMAC is less a roof than an expansive turf-topped field, the only one of its kind in the Ivy League. When those practicing or watching an event here take a minute to look beyond the chain-link fence, they are rewarded with a beautiful view of campus. Downtown, the bay and every one of Brown’s sports fields can be seen from this building.
Perkins HallLocated at the farthest corner of Brown’s campus, the roof of Perkins Hall offers views worth the infamous trek of the tip of Sayles Hall, with downtown Providence to its left and the Sciences Library standing like a pinnacle to its right. Looking south at the opposite end, the waterfront on Wickenden Street glimmers between two trees.
Pizzitola GymnasiumThere is no better place to see Ittleson Quadrangle and Indomitable, the 10-foot-high bronze Kodiak bear, than from the top of the Pizzitola. The sun gleams off of the neighboring dome of the Meehan Auditorium, and the Nelson Fitness Center stands tall before the rest of College Hill. But the most intriguing sight from this vantage point is a sea of stadium lights rising high above East Providence.
John D. Rockefeller LibraryOne story above the rows of busy students studying at carrels on the fourth floor of the Rock is a much better sight than desktop graffiti. The Rock’s wide, gravel-topped roof is the place to be during Convocation and Commencement for the best view of incoming and outgoing classes of students passing through the Van Wickle Gates. Not to mention it offers a spectacular view of the downtown Providence cityscape.
Sciences LibraryThe top of the tallest building on campus — and 13th-tallest building in Rhode Island — is all it’s cracked up to be and more. The views of Providence and College Hill from 180 feet high are the best of anywhere Brown has to offer. Every part of the University and the city seems visible by peering over the walls on all four sides. Reaching the top requires a hike up full four flights of stairs above the 14th floor, but with these views, the trip is worth it.
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70 Ship StreetStanding at a higher elevation than the Medical School roof and terrace, the top of 70 Ship Street delivers the most impressive view of downtown Providence of any University building. Clear sights of the Providence River, historic Biltmore Hotel and even the Rhode Island State House are accessible at this spot.
Sidney Frank Hall for Life Sciences“You don’t want to be up here too long,” said Ray Pratt, Facilities Management worker, stepping on to the roof of Sidney Frank Hall. Ventilation shafts carrying chemicals from the laboratories inside let out on the roof, he said. But three minutes on the top of this building is enough to take in spectacular views of Pembroke Campus, East Providence and Thayer Street all at once.
Brown StadiumThough it takes a bit of a trek to make it to the Brown Stadium, the view from this iconic structure is unique for that same reason. The roof of the long press box offers views of the countless rows of bleachers leading down to the pristine, green football field. When spectators take a minute to look up at the expansive tree line that extends beyond the end zones, the view makes apparent how the stadium stands out from its surroundings in its unusual spot, nestled in a large residential area.
University HallGetting to the roof of University Hall is no piece of custom-made 250th anniversary cake. The narrow staircase off the fourth floor only reaches halfway there. But climbing through the hatch leading up to the roof makes the perilous journey might just seem worth it. With the Main Green on one side and Quiet Green on the other, the top of University Hall offers all of Brown’s iconic landscaping in one fell swoop. And it yields an answer for those who have ever wondered what the class bell sounds like from three feet away: loud.