Duke Looks to Transform Undergrad Residential Life

Breaking ground on a new East Campus dorm this summer is initiative's first step

bassett dorm

Students in the Bassett Residence Hall. Two new residence halls are being planned to replace aging residence halls on East and Central Campuses. Photo: Duke Photography. 

Duke University expects to break ground on a new East Campus residence hall late this summer as the first step in a multi-year initiative to transform residential life for undergraduate students.

In addition, plans call for a new residence hall to be built on West Campus near the Keohane Quad/Eden Quad area in the next several years, subject to approval by the university’s Board of Trustees.

Additional projects on campus will follow, which will ultimately replace the more than 1,000 beds on Duke’s Central Campus, a collection of garden-style apartments that were built in the 1970s and can no longer be renovated.

Also, renovations are slated for Craven and Crowell Quads, the last of the original West Campus residence halls that have not been updated since their construction in the 1920s.

housing renovation

“Since the founding of the university, the essential Duke experience has taken place on campus,” said President Richard H. Brodhead. “We have spent the past several years restoring and modernizing our shared spaces, like West Union and the libraries. It is now time to turn our attention and resources to the residential community, which facilitates learning and engagement for all students.”

The total cost for the new and renovated residence halls could exceed $250 million. It will follow major renovations of Perkins and Rubenstein Libraries, West Union, Bryan Center, Page Auditorium and Baldwin Auditorium, as well as the construction of Penn Pavilion, a multipurpose facility. West Union, which will open this summer after an extensive update, will provide state-of-the-art dining, meeting and social space for students and faculty.

“Residential and social life at Duke is the subject of continuous study and adjustment,” said Steve Nowicki, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education.  “Much as the educational experience has evolved, so too have living patterns and the way students connect with each other, and their communities. What has not kept up are our physical spaces, and we are now ready to bring them to the same level of quality as our social spaces.”

The planned new residence hall on East Campus, which houses all first-year students, is expected to open in January 2018. It will be built next to Bell Tower Residence Hall and its 250 beds will eventually replace those in three aging East Campus buildings -- East, Jarvis and Epworth.

Meanwhile, construction of a proposed 350-bed residence on West Campus near Keohane or Edens Quad could start as soon as summer 2017 and open in fall 2019. Additional buildings are still in the planning stages. Most new housing units will feature single bedrooms in four-person, two-bathroom clusters.

“Campus life will be significantly better for students,” said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs. “The accommodations will be brand new. We’re moving students closer to West Campus. Their living arrangements will be more convenient for academics, dining, athletics and campus life overall.”

Some current Central Campus housing units will be retired this summer. About 160 students currently living there will be moved to other locations on Central Campus or to university-owned apartments on Swift Avenue. Additional accommodations will be made available to students while the new housing plan proceeds.

The new residence halls are part of the ongoing effort to integrate students' residential, social and academic experiences. Below, Duke students move in packages belonging to a first-year student on East Campus. Photo: Duke Photography.