Gathering Area Dedicated in Memory of Bill Brown-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gathering Area Dedicated in Memory of Bill Brown

photo of Bill Brown gathering area from above

A gathering area with benches, sculptures and a rock garden located next to the side entrance of Doherty Hall serves as a visible and lasting memorial to recognize and honor the late Professor William E. Brown’s broad contributions to the university. The outdoor space was dedicated on Friday, Sept. 17.

The Bill Brown Gathering Area was designed and built by an interdisciplinary team of students consisting of 14 civil and environmental engineering students, one fifth-year architecture student and a student artist in the Bachelor of Humanities and Arts program as part of Engineering Professor Larry Cartwright’s “Design and Construction” course.

The students’ design was inspired by Brown’s many roles: mentor, teacher, researcher, collaborator, and as an individual who made a lasting impact on his students and colleagues. The shape of the upper and lower seating areas was designed to represent the molecular structure of DNA base pairs. As a nod to Brown’s childhood spent traveling the world with his father, who was in the wood and lumber industry, the students incorporated cedar and a Brazilian wood known as Ipê into the design of the benches and table.

“The development of this space and the space itself reflect what Bill loved about Carnegie Mellon – students collaborating together, coming up with something that nobody could have imagined; Larry gently leading students the way I feel Bill mentored his students; and the fact that it was made by students and faculty working together,” said Linda Brown, Professor Brown’s widow. Linda and their sons were involved with the design process from the start, from helping students get a sense of who Brown was as a person and as an educator to choosing the combination of student concepts that would become the final design.

“Today we look back and remember Bill and his work,” said Vice Provost for Education Amy Burkert. “But through this site, where students and faculty of today and tomorrow will sit, eat, think, study, rest, dream, or imagine, there will be mentoring, creating, collaborating, and there will be fostering of respect for each other and each other’s ideas. And through it all, the legacy that was and is Bill Brown will live on.”

By: Amy Pavlak