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Duke Seeks Input on Campus Expansion Plan

Duke University officials said they want input on their plan to expand the campus along two prominent landmarks – the Nasher Museum of Art and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

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Duke Seeks Input on Campus Expansion Plan
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University officials said they want input on their plan to expand the campus along two prominent landmarks – the Nasher Museum of Art and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

On March 1, the Duke University Board of Trustees approved a master plan design, which includes focusing initial development along Campus Drive, between Duke's East and West campuses.

The design concept for development over the next 50 to 75 years was presented by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (PCPA) to the trustees at their weekend meeting.

The Duke community and general public can hear from the PCPA team and learn about the expansion’s general design at a meeting at 7 p.m., March 12, in the museum’s Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Family Lecture Hall.

Officials said they will seek input to inform PCPA’s work as it starts tackling specific details of the plan.

After an analysis of existing conditions, such as the terrain, transit routes and other issues, the PCPA team concluded that expansion along Campus Drive provides many practical, environmental and aesthetic advantages over the university’s previous plan to build closer to Erwin Road.

Officials said the new approach also will comply with all of the zoning commitments the university previously agreed to with the City of Durham and community leaders, including improvements to Anderson Street to give it more of a campus feel.

Cesar Pelli, who was selected by the American Institute of Architects as one of the 10 most influential living American architects, led the analysis and design process.

“Duke asked the Pelli Clarke Pelli team to take a fresh approach, and it has come back with an unexpected and wonderfully inventive approach. Their plan extends organically from West Campus and embraces the gardens and the Nasher as the center of a new focal point for our campus,” Duke President Richard Brodhead said in a news release.

The new plan contains many of the same features of the earlier plan. The development will include residences for as many as 1,400 undergraduate students, graduate students and visiting faculty. The residential spaces will “encourage inter-generational interaction,” and are expected to consist mainly of apartments along with some suites and dorm facilities, Brodhead said.

Academically, the plan identifies space for the arts, humanities, international programs and other purposes.

These include the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies; international services; language, literature and culture departments; visual and performing arts programs and theater spaces; a library resource center that focuses on the visual arts; classrooms and study rooms; and one or more centers for alumni, career planning and visitors.

The plan also calls for dining, social and recreational amenities placed strategically along campus travel routes used by students.

The new plan takes advantage of existing bus routes and encourages more walking and biking by students and others.

“We want Duke to be a model of sustainability, and one way to do that is to make it easier for our students and others to walk or bike to where they are going,” said Tallman Trask, Duke’s executive vice president.

Widening the bike lanes on Campus Drive and adding new bike lanes elsewhere on campus can help reduce people’s reliance on motor vehicles, he said.

All of the buildings will be designed and constructed to be low-energy and resource-efficient to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building standards, Trask said.

“A minimum of LEED Silver certification is the target for all construction, with some buildings to be identified for a higher goal,” he said.

“We are planning this expansion with a high degree of environmental sensitivity,” Trask added. “Duke is committed to building on previously disturbed land. The new plan will give careful attention to protecting and expanding natural areas -- indeed, it capitalizes on them -- and to implementing innovative stormwater management practices.”

The plan will not require immediate demolition of existing Central Campus apartments that serve about 1,000 students. The apartments will be phased out as construction proceeds.

“Using the apartments, this will provide students with a place to live as we build new housing and renovate residence halls on West Campus. However, the university is committed to demolishing the apartments as soon as practicable,” Trask said.

University officials foresee future medical and research-related offices and facilities being built in the direction of Central Campus, closer to and along Erwin Road near Duke University Hospital.

Once school officials agree on which buildings will be constructed in Phase I, the design stage, which requires trustee approval, will take at least six months. Infrastructure work could begin in early 2009, with buildings beginning to open in early 2011.

PCPA and their design team will continue to assist Duke with planning, refining the program elements and completing design, landscape, transportation and sustainability guidelines. They also will assist with the selection of architects to design specific buildings, and with beginning the needed infrastructure work.

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