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West Union Renovations Begin

West Union Renovations Begin

Enhancements to 'Old Duke' building to foster student activity

July 22, 2013 |
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West Union plans

Renovations have begun this summer to the West Union building, which when completed will be home to a wide variety of food venues, student gathering spaces and multi-purpose areas.

It is estimated that the demolition phase of the project will run through February 2014. Construction is expected to run from February 2014 until early 2016. When finished, contractors will have renovated more than 110,000 square feet inside the eight-decade-old building.

When West Union reopens, the state-of-the-art dining center will serve about 6,000 meals a day in a community setting.

The renovations will blend elements of historic Duke -- such as the Great Hall -- with the new, including a multi-story glass facade that looks out onto Kilgo Quad.

"When the West Union opened, it was the center of student life of a newly formed university and remained so for decades," says Steve Nowicki, dean of undergraduate education. "Over time, as other student spaces were conceived, the West Union was carved up and used for other purposes and it lost its character as a place to see and be seen as a Duke student.

"With this renovation, West Union will be reborn to what it was intended to be, but with the advantages of modern conveniences," Nowicki adds. "When students walk into the West Union, they should feel like they are in the living room of their Duke home."

Upon completion, the main level, accessible from the West Campus Plaza, will offer a variety of dining options, including Indian food, Asian food and pizza-pasta. There will also be distinctive seating areas that can accommodate student groups and other gatherings.

On the ground floor will be a pub and bakery, as well as multi-purpose student gathering and meeting spaces that will extend throughout the building. Also on this level will be indoor and outdoor seating that will connect West Union to Kilgo Quad.

The floor above the main level will feature a "pop-up" food venue whose fare changes regularly, more student gathering and meeting spaces and private dining rooms large enough for residence halls to reserve for community dinners.

On the top floor will be a commons area that will be used as a faculty lunch venue and a sit-down dinner spot for students.

"This is being designed as a 'sit-and-stick' venue where people can enjoy each other's company while also enjoying fabulous food," says vice president for student affairs Larry Moneta. "It also provides new spaces for student clubs and organization to meet and for students to engage with each other. We expect this to become the living room of the university."

A significant portion of the project costs are funded by a gift to the university from The Duke Endowment.

During the construction, students will be able to eat at the new Events Pavilion, next to the Bryan Center. The approximately 20,000-square-foot pavilion will serve as temporary dining space for those venues displaced by the West Union renovation. Once the West Union is completed, the Events Pavilion will become a meeting and events space for campus use. 

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