Durham, N.C. — The groundbreaking ceremony will be held Friday for a new residence hall at Duke University. The building will be located at West Campus and will create a fourth side to Keohane Quad. Final plans allow for some flexibility, but the new building will tentatively contain 150 beds. The five-story structure will be internally divided into two houses. The first two floors will constitute the lower house, and the top three floors will be the upper house. Each house will have its own entrance, and the two will be connected by a common area. The project will be ready for students by spring 2012, with full occupation expected by the following fall.
“The new building is an experiment,” says Steve Nowicki, dean of undergraduate education at Duke.
The building will not only be an architectural experiment, but it will also be an experiment in how Duke’s housing will be designed going forward. The university plans to add approximately 1,000 beds on West Campus in the coming years, and it is using the new dorm as a test for a new model of housing that draws on Duke’s past. West Campus formerly contained student housing that was much smaller and felt more like houses than dorms. The school’s shift to housing first-year students in larger dorms on East Campus changed this, but the school feels it can bring back that more intimate feel of housing on West Campus.
“Every institution is unique, and what we’re doing is taking Duke to a new level to solidify what we gain by being a residential university,” Nowicki says.
— Coleman Wood