Vision - Building for the Future

When in 1925 Duke President William Preston Few with the support of benefactor James B. Duke set out to construct Duke University, theirs was a forward looking vision to create a campus of an enduring quality. Central Campus development is intended to complement East and West Campuses and better connect them both physically and programmatically.

"New Campus" will be a distinctive campus where the quality of architecture will withstand the test of time and will equal the aesthetic caliber of East and West Campuses. Continuing on the foundation of the early Central Campus planning, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, as master designer, will develop an overall vision for the campus and its architecture to embody three primary tenets:


Redevelopment of Central Campus will be consistent with and informed by the Principles of the Campus Master Plan 2000, which was presented to Durham City Council in March 2000 and approved by Duke's Board of Trustees in May 2000, included a broad brush reference to future changes to Central Campus.

Specific principles of the Master Plan that are applicable to Central Campus include:

  • Duke is a Historic and Dynamic Campus
  • Duke is a Collection of Memorable Places
  • Duke is a University in the Forest
  • Duke is a Walkable Campus with an Understandable Transit System
  • Duke is a Community of Communities
  • Duke is a Citizen of Durham and the Region

After Durham's planning department established new zoning districts for local institutions of higher education, Duke was the first institution to undergo rezoning. Duke's East and West Campus were rezoned UC and UC(D) in 2003. In January 2007, the Durham City Council approved Duke's request to rezone the Central Campus area as University-College.

Central Campus redevelopment planning began as primarily replacement housing. In Spring 2005, Provost Peter Lange (the university's chief academic officer) and Vice President for Campus Services Kemel Dawkins led the internal program planning process to define the program elements for the first phase of the development. Since programming committees first outlined a vision for Phase I, a significant academic component has been added.

Duke's current strategic plan, Making a Difference, references the transformation of Central Campus and notes that major investment in new and improved facilities is necessary to help realize it's ambitions in research and education. Early planning for the Central Campus Precinct is included in the 2006 Action Plan.

Uniting Old and New

Steve Nowicki, dean of Undergraduate Education at Duke, explains the vision for integrating the development of Duke's West and Central Campus.