Realizing a shift in student attitudes toward health and dining, the university sought to strengthen the relationship between academic, residential, and social environments. The Brodhead Center is at the intersection of all three environments. Each goal for the Brodhead Center emerged from the central idea of community, an essential facet of Dukes institutional vision and mission. Student life spaces were developed around the idea of a social precinct, containing a variety of flexible spaces and seating areas equipped to handle technological and other academic needs. Conference rooms, small group meeting areas, and multi-purpose spaces are spread throughout the building to provide versatile spaces for student connection outside of their residence halls and classrooms. Circulation patterns detailed in the campus master plan traverse to and through the student union, while the design of the building itself retains and restores legacy elements that embody Duke’s architectural identity. The project reestablished the historic dining halls as the cornerstone of student activity.
Because construction of the project was fast-tracked, multiple document packages were carefully synced with the construction manager’s schedule. Input on constructability from the construction manager was incorporated during the design process. To create the addition’s largely transparent façade enclosure, a design assist process was utilized in cooperation with both the contractor and fabricator. The architect also engaged an artist during the design of the bridge element that spans the entry court, which led to the installation of glass lenses embedded in the concrete walkway that focus light on the plaza below.
It has fulfilled its goal, becoming an innovative and thoughtful addition to the Duke campus and a new social center of gravity for the student.
William McCraw, Duke University Staff Architect, Office of Project Management
Grimshaw Architects; also Reed Hilderbrand; Buro Happold Consulting Engineers; Vanderweil Engineers; Front, Inc. Yui Design; Celano Design Studio; Stewart Consulting Engineers; Tillotson Design; Skanska USA; Architectural Operations D.P.C.