Duke University: Under Construction

by | September 30, 2016 |

Title Photo: Duke University West Campus, seen from the dorm quads

In April, when I left Durham, North Carolina for my around-the-world trip, I was not expecting to return to Duke University in September and find it one of the more surprising places I’ve been in the past few months.

And I can say this not only having been an undergraduate at Duke but also as a member of the faculty for many years. Or perhaps my surprise is due to the fact that I have known the Duke University campus in a certain way for so long. Here’s an example:


The former International House

For many years International House sat at the intersection of Campus Drive and Anderson Street. As you see, it’s a quaint house ringed by azaleas.

Now there’s this:

Duke University

This building is going to be an arts complex, so I’ve heard. I took this photo from the front lawn of the Nasher Art Museum on Campus Drive

At the corner of Science Drive and 751 there used to be a plain old gravel parking lot surrounded by trees:

Yup, just gravel

Yup, just gravel

Now there’s this:

Duke University

This massive parking deck is presumably intended to serve what is being constructed (that is, reconstructed) next door, namely the Thomas Center and the business school:

Duke University

Then there’s the Wellness Center going up on Towerview Road at the entrance to the Bryan Center and West Union:

Duke University

Old-fashioned Student Health is located in a section of the hospital off Flowers Drive and will presumably soon be shut down.

That’s just West Campus. What about East? The backyard of East Campus along Broad Street used to be grassy fields. Now at the Main Street end of campus a new dorm is being built:

 Duke University

The dorm in the background is Bell Tower. My back is toward Main Street. I was not allowed to get any closer to the construction site.

On the Markham Avenue end of things a softball field is being laid out:

Duke University

The building in the background is Bivins. Behind me is the field hockey field.

The pièce de résistance is surely back on West Campus in the newly unveiled West Union, which was three years in the making. The old union was gutted. Here’s part of what’s remained of the original interior: the fireplace in a central lounge that backed onto the wood-paneled Old Trinity Room, which was demolished to make way for one of the stations in the food court.

Duke University

The original fireplace

Fortunately, the ceilings of both the Cambridge Inn and the Gothic Dining Hall were preserved.

Duke University

The Gothic Dining Hall has been divided into two separate food stations.

Here’s a view of the backside of West Union from the outside on a rainy day

Duke University

The top floor with the terrace is the new Faculty Commons

Here’s a view of the plaza outside West Union:

Duke University

And another view of the plaza:

Duke University

Given my recent international travels, my first impression of West Union was that it reminded me of the Turkish Airlines business class lounge at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, a place I have been many, many times.


It’s a beautiful lounge with many food stations not pictured here. I chose this image to give you a feel for the place.

For those of you who don’t know the Duke University campus, this blog has likely been a series of uninteresting construction sites. For those of you who do know Duke campus, these photos are nothing less than amazing. I don’t know what the direction of Georgian East Campus is, but Gothic West Campus has entered its glass-and-steel phase.

See: All My North Carolina Blogs

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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen

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