CampusScene: Meet Norfolk State’s New and Improved Brown Hall


Norfolk State has been under non-stop reconstruction for the past couple of years. Recently, after finishing the eye-capturing Nursing & General Education building, NSU has set its goal on conquering a building that is almost as old as the university, Brown Memorial Hall.

A very close colleague of mine and I had an exciting opportunity to tour the building which is still in its construction phase. The team of the main architects behind the creation of the new Brown hall gave us information as to what the new building will have to offer to future Spartans.

Fully named G.W.C Brown Memorial Hall, it is Norfolk State’s first educational building which originally opened in 1955. The original building hosted a library, cafeteria, classrooms and administrations offices. In 2014, the building was torn down with the exception of the A-wing that contains the prominent Brown theater; also planned for reconstruction. The facility is expected to be finished by 2017.

When my colleague and I first arrived we were greeted by Director of Capital Planning at NSU Terry G. Woodhouse, Project Architect at Work Program Architects (WPA) Jeremy Maloney, and LEED AP of WPA Mel Price. As we walked through debris of dirt and cement of what would soon be the inside of the facility, they gave us a break down of the creation of each room and what purpose the room would serve.

One of the most amazing spectacles of the new building is the theater. Once we walked in, it was breath taking, mainly due to its sheer size. As the architects explained the layout of the room you could hear a loud echo of their voices. I was very impressed by how much thought went into just that room alone. They literally thought of every aspect in which the room could be used from the nose bleed catwalk for theater staff to the crafted slots for stage lights, you could tell a lot of thought went into the creation of the building. The theater can host up to 368 people, as I looked around the large space I started to imagine all of the amazing plays and performances that would happen in this state of the art space.

The next location we visited in the building was the lobby amphitheater. Included in this room was a performance platform which in a nutshell will most likely be used for the school’s famous activity hours. Once again it was humongous, the stairs weren’t fully built yet so that made the room look even bigger. Behind the platform was nothing but a glass wall which provides a glorious view of the Student Service Center, Student Union Center, the Nursing & General Education building and the Lyman Beecher Brooks Library.

Aside from the theater and amphitheater the building pays tribute to the original by hosting all of its original features. However, the new Brown Hall will bring several different technological features such as video teleconference classrooms, business electronic classrooms, a green room, learning nodes, a TV studio, editing bays and much more!

When we exited out of the side of the building my colleague and I glanced once more at the building. A bittersweet feeling overcame us as we recalled all of our past memories in the previous Brown hall, while also feeling left out due to the fact that the building would be finished in our year of graduation. The architects had jokingly told us that we should come back and visit the building as alumni to which we happily agreed. Norfolk State is moving a steady pace always growing and changing.

Although I probably will not be around to enjoy the new facilities on campus, I am proud to say that future Spartans will absolutely fall in love with the reinvented Norfolk State University.