Work to upgrade irrigation and drainage at historic Abele Quad will conclude in late August, completing the second phase of a multistep construction project.
Started last year between Kilgo Quad and West Union, renovations moved to the green space outside the Allen Building down to Davison Quad. Like work in 2015, this year’s renovations were focused on adding additional drainage to help with grass and tree health, as well as preventing water from accumulating on the bluestone walkways, which are being widened by about three feet.
The enhancements are important for the health and aesthetics of the 90-year old quad, said Mark Hough, university landscape architect. Additional work will take place next year closer to the Davison Building.
“We’ve done a lot with buildings in that area, but we’ve never had a landscape restoration the entire time the campus has been there,” Hough said. “It was just time to bring the health of the landscaping back to the quality the university deserves.”
During the work, crews were forced to take down two trees that were unhealthy and nearing the end of their lifespan. For example, arborists were monitoring an oak tree in front of the Allen Building that needed to come down after dropping limbs for several years.
“That can be dangerous to pedestrians in such a high traffic area,” Hough said. “It was over 85 years old, which is pretty much the life expectancy of that species, but we do everything we can to maintain the health of those historic trees.”
As with other projects, Duke will plant new trees as old ones come down. Hough said three new large oaks will be planted after the renovations are completed.