Brown After Hours: Thinking Spaces

Suppose you live in Grad Center (or some other sterling example of 70’s architecture), and suppose you don’t want to spend all your weekday nights in your room. Or perhaps you have a roommate, and they’ve sexiled you, and you want to brood. Or maybe you just want a place to get some thinking done by yourself. College is a community experience, but it’s good to get some time to relax and think all by your lonesome.

You might think that your options for where to hang out on campus are limited after about 8 p.m. There’s Faunce, but it’s fairly busy, and lacks an atmosphere of privacy. You can go to the Rock, but unless you, like me, have a bizarre love for the Level B stacks, you won’t get the solitude you’re craving. You could go to the SciLi, but why move from one hideous building to another? Fortunately, there remain a number of great places to get work done or sit and relax in peace and quiet by yourself. Some of them are not always open, and others might require you to be in the building before the doors get locked, but each of them is a relaxing environment that will contain few, if any people.

1. The Meditation Room

On the 4th floor of J. Walter Wilson is a small room for meditation and prayer, perhaps 8 by 15 feet. It has a sign on the door that you can use to tell people not to bother you, and has a variety of religious items, if that’s your thing. The most important thing about the Meditation Room is that JWW is open at strange hours in the night. The 4th floor isn’t always reachable, but if you’re lucky maybe one of the maintenance people will let you in. Think away, fledgling monk.


Regrettably, the Meditation Room lacks a waterfall. 

2. List Art Center

List’s drawing rooms are generally devoid of visitors any time after 6 p.m., making them a perfect destination for anyone who wants to relax the mind and possibly get some work done. If for whatever reason, silence terrifies you, they have speaker systems and computers through which you can play music. You don’t even have to bring anything. The downside is that the building technically closes at midnight, so you won’t be able to count on List any time you want to. Still, the rooms are spacious, there’s great art everywhere, and the security guard is quite friendly.

3. Manning Chapel

Manning Chapel is another building that closes earlier than is convenient. The doors are normally locked by 10 p.m. In spite of that, there was a serendipitous occasion in which someone left the building unlocked for the night, and I was able to get in at about 1 a.m. The stillness is a bit strange at first, and it may have only appealed to me because I grew up in a Catholic family, but I recommend stopping in if you can swing it. Past 10, never get your hopes up for Manning, but never forget to have a look.

4. Sayles

Sayles is frequently open at strange hours, at least in my experience. If you want a vast, cavernous hall all to yourself, this is the place to be. It even has a stage. You can practice break dancing in secret there and then bust it out a few months later at a party. Supposing you don’t want such a vast space all to yourself, the classrooms are also available. Sayles is a beautiful building, and being there after hours is soothing. It creaks a bit as you walk, so it’s never too quiet, and the limited bathroom space isn’t a problem because you’re the only one there.

Well, that’s all for now. I actually worry that compiling these spaces into one list will attract people to them, thereby negating the purpose of the list, but on the other hand I doubt that people will be mobbing these locations to any significant extent. Go forth and save thy selves from social burnout.

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