Building a New Residential Identity and Tradition

Students explore history — and create it—with new QuadEx arches

QuadEx logo with Edens' Arch

Bricks to Stone Ceremony

Celebrating the transition of first-years from the bricks of East Campus to the stones of West Campus, the Bricks to Stone ceremony will feature a block party on April 14 at Karsh Alumni Center, a parade up Chapel Drive, a class pinning ceremony with President Price, and quad after-parties.

The students and staff who have worked on these arches since August now have big, audacious plans for them. They’re not just a decoration to hang from the side of a residence hall. They are to signify something larger and more complex – a community identity for young people to share at an important time in their lives.

They’re not just a decoration to hang from the side of a residence hall. They are to signify something larger and more complex – an identity for young people to share at an important time in their lives.

“What makes an undergraduate experience unique is the collective living situation,” said Nicholas Chrapliwy, a 2022 Duke graduate and Spark Fellow who has directed the student teams of the Quad Identities Project. “It’s one of the only living experiences in your life where you share with your entire building a collective goal of graduating and completing your studies. And it’s with people of the same age who make up the most diverse environment students will likely ever be in throughout their lives.”

Next week, the arches will be showcased during a new Duke tradition, the Brick-to-Stone walk in which first-year students march from the Karsh Alumni Center at the foot of Chapel Drive to the Abele Quad to be formally welcomed by President Vincent Price to West Campus for the coming year. That symbolic transition – with the literal move from the bricks of East Campus to the stones of West Campus – will illuminate Duke’s new QuadEx program and President Price’s strategic goal of a vibrant and inclusive renewed campus community.

The arches, Chrapliwy said, will provide a visual boost to the transition. They’re designed to be a point of both identification and pride and are intended to resonate as much with alumni as they do with current students. If you lived in Edens at any point, you might have encountered a deer, which are known to roam the woods nearby — the only quad remote enough for this to be the case. Consequently, a white-tailed deer is incorporated into the Edens arch. The Edens colors are principally purple and white, a nod to the shades of Duke stone, culled from a Hillsborough quarry, that were used to build the Edens buildings. The 7 points in the deer’s antlers in the Edens Arch? A deliberate representation of the quad number ‘7,’ chosen for the seven buildings that comprise the Edens quad.

A collage of the seven arch designs

It is particularly important that the arches are meaningful to a diverse group of residents, said Landy Elliott, chief of staff and associate dean of special projects in Duke’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences and administrative lead on the project.

“The underlying concept of the Quad Identity Project is about helping all students feel a connection to the places they live and the people who live there.”

“The underlying concept of the Quad Identity Project is about helping all students feel a connection to the places they live and the people who live there,” she said. “Focusing on the natural and built environment of Duke’s campus allows anyone who has spent time in these spaces to recognize elements the students chose to highlight.”

Student designers don’t expect complete buy-in right away. But the visual identities will stick over time, said Mikey Schwartz, a Duke sophomore from High Point who lives in Edens and has spent the several months on a team researching his dorm history to plan the elements for the arches.

“I think it has a lot of potential to help build community, but that doesn’t happen instantly,” he said. “This is just one element of building that community – having a visual identity that everyone can buy into. You see it all the time with sports teams or businesses. Visual identities are so important. If you see the Apple logo you know what it signifies.”

For each quad, a student team was assembled to help create the visual identities. They studied the cultural, geographic, architectural and natural histories of their residence halls. For this, they spent a lot of time in the university archives.

Students on the design teams sit around a table giving thumbs up

“It was really elucidating to go back through the archives,” said Zoe Tishaev, a junior from Maryland who, like Schwartz, was part of the Edens research team. “I loved reading about the reasoning behind the quads.”

And there was plenty to learn. The research gave each student group a grounding in the history and quirks of their respective homes. They used this knowledge to sprinkle each arch with unique touches.

The Keohane arch’s principal color, for example, is deep orange, a nod to the many shades of desaturated orange dotting the buildings’ brick. The Wannamaker arch incorporates the numbers 5 and 8, a reference to 1958, the year that quad was first occupied by students. And the Kilgo arch’s distinct architectural feature is the belfry, since Kilgo is the only Duke quad with one.

A 3D printed crow sits on top of an exit sign
3D printed crow figurines adorn common objects throughout the Crowell quad.

And of course the Crowell quad’s animal element is the American crow, many of which often perch on the buildings’ pitched roofs.

“The crow was probably the most talked-about point because it’s the most recognizable element,” said Joey Ilagan, a sophomore member of the Crowell research team. “It’s like a mascot. For us, not only do we have the connection to the name, but we see crows around all the time.”

Crows of all sorts are hard to miss these days around the Crowell quad. Robert Sprung, a junior member of the Crowell research team, engaged in some guerrilla marketing recently by 3D printing a series of small crow figurines that he placed near doors, signs and entranceways around the quad. It’s just one more way to bring attention to the project, he said.

“They’re not super large but they’re noticeable,” Sprung said. “We’re trying to incorporate the quad identity into the lived experience of the quad and we want to be creative.”

Ilagan and other students hope these arches will help current students embrace Duke’s transition to the QuadEx residential life model, but also seed a tradition for future generations to appreciate as well.

“QuadEx is here to stay, and for a lot of students involved in this process, we want to make sure the foundation of all of this is built to last,” Ilagan said. “The things that tie the quads together are things that future students can latch onto. While these arches are creations of today, they are connected to the entire history of Duke and are created with that in mind.”

Anatomy of an Arch

Foliage marker in arch Principal color marker in arch Architectural detail marker in arch Numbers represented in architecture marker in arch Arbor marker in arch Supporting color marker in arch Arch Partition marker in arch Fauna marker in arch Date marker in arch Motto marker in arch
  1. Foliage: Redbud branches and blossoms. The ornamental foliage around the Few Arch is composed of the late spring and summer Redbud leaves and the early spring pink blossoms.
  1. Principal Color: Royal Blue. Chosen to correspond with blue color of the bannisters, doorframes, and marble tiles in entrances to Few.
  1. Architectural Detail: Few Tower. The unmistakable icon of the Quad, Few Tower is visible from nearly every point on campus and gives the Quad one of its significant numbers, six, for the number of stories in the Tower.
  1. Numbers: 6 and 8. Six is significant to Few as the number of stories in Few Tower. From a bird’s eye view, the near and far quads of Few form a figure eight, giving the Quad its second significant number also referenced in its date.
  1. Arbor: Eastern Redbud. Seen near Few, this native tree’s bright pink blossoms bloom in early February, connecting to the Quad date of Feb. 8.
  1. Supporting Color: Warm White. It is derived from the warm white pressed bricks that line the interior façade of Few Quad.
  1. Arch Partition: Inverted Chevron. Inverted to cohere with the inverted shield shape of the Arches, the chevron is connected to the architectural form of the gables seen all over Abele Quad buildings. Referencing the chevron in the Duke Family crest, the partition also symbolizes leadership.
  1. Fauna: Eastern Gray Squirrel, which are a frequent sight scurrying around campus. The Few image is a direct copy of a herald containing a squirrel on the upper right corner of the exterior entrance to Few Tower.
  1. Date: February 8, 1938, marks the time in early Spring when the Redbud trees begin to blossom, an early herald of warmer weather to come. The year 1938 was the first year of Few Quad’s construction. Both the date and year reference one of the Quad’s Significant Numbers, 8, as well.
  1. Motto: Taking the formula of the Duke University motto (“Eruditio et Religio”), “Freedom and Discipline” represents the newfound freedom of being a college student and the need to balance that freedom with the management of important responsibilities. Freedom and Discipline are also the names of the two Squirrels that flank the lower region of the Few Arch.