Brookings Quadrangle is a strong representation of the early architectural planning of the university. Following the plan seen at Oxford University, Brookings Quadrangle has a grass recreation area surrounded by academic buildings. Earlier in Washington University's history, there were a number of distinct quadrangles, but now Brookings Quadrangle is the only one that strongly represents the original design.
Robert S. Brookings was born in 1850 and later went to work for Cupples & Marston, a woodenware and willowware wholesale business. He and his brother were eventually made equal partners in the business, and Robert took upon himself the responsibility of moving Washington University to its current, permanent location, and contributed $200,000 to the University for the construction of an administrative building. Brookings was also the founder of the Brookings Institution and was a member of the University's Board of Directors from 1891 to 1928, serving as president from 1895 to 1928.