Central Campus on the Move

October 1, 2007
First in a series: Cesar Pelli's architectural imprint at Duke began with the sports quadrangle that includes the Wilson Recreation Center

First in a series: Cesar Pelli's architectural imprint at Duke began with the sports quadrangle that includes the Wilson Recreation Center. Les Todd

Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, an award-winning firm known for such works as the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, Reagan National Airport in Washington, and a 1984 expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has been selected as master designer for the redevelopment of Duke's Central Campus.

As master designer, PCPA will develop an overall vision for the campus and its architecture. Its architects will determine the placement of buildings and open space, develop design guidelines, choose key materials, design several individual buildings, and help choose architects to collaborate on the design of others.

Central Campus consists of about 200 acres between East and West campuses that are now home mainly to aging apartment structures. Administrators hope the redevelopment, expected to occur in phases over a twenty- to fifty-year period, will create a Central Campus that better complements Duke's other campuses and connects them.

A Cesar Pelli building

© Tim Griffith / Esto

Initially, the redevelopment was seen primarily as a way to replace and update existing housing, but discussions among programming committees in early 2005 led planners to begin thinking in terms of an "academic village" that combines housing with academic and administrative departments. That idea was reflected in a new "Phase I" development plan approved by the board of trustees in September 2006.

"Simultaneously, we want the new campus to address academic needs in arts, humanities, and international programs, and to encourage collaborative learning and foster interdisciplinary research," says President Richard H. Brodhead. "We hope to create a distinctive campus whose quality of architecture should withstand the test of time and be equivalent to the aesthetic caliber of East and West campuses."

Besides aesthetic and programming concerns, administrators are also concerned with sustainability. Since 2003, Duke has required that construction on campus meet or exceed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System's requirements, and the new Central Campus is no exception.

Duke officials are confident that PCPA is the right choice for the job. The firm's previous campus work includes projects at Rice and Yale universities; the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey; and several University of California campuses. PCPA also designed the sports quadrangle at Duke that includes the Wilson, Schwartz-Butters, and Sheffield buildings, along with "Krzyzewskiville."

The design stage for the new campus is expected to take at least six months. Infrastructure work could begin in 2008, with some buildings opening by 2010 or 2011.