Duke University is receiving an $80 million gift, the largest single philanthropic gift in the university's history, from The Duke Endowment of Charlotte, NC, to transform its student union and renovate two other landmark facilities.
The grant will fund the first major renovation of West Union and Page Auditorium on Duke's West Campus, and Baldwin Auditorium on its East Campus. All three buildings are part of the original campus construction that began following benefactor James B. Duke's creation of both the Endowment and the university in 1924.
West Union served as Duke's principal student gathering and eating space for more than 50 years, until the opening of the Bryan Center in 1982. It will be completely remade on the interior to create new student social space and dining opportunities.
With its location at the center of Duke's main quadrangle, the new West Union will be a "Main Street" for students, faculty and visitors to campus, according to the school's announcement of the grant. "Together with more recent additions like the Bryan Center and The Plaza, the renovation will create a vibrant community space that draws students day and night," it added.
Construction work is expected to take place in phases beginning later in 2011 with Baldwin Auditorium. In the meantime, Duke officials are developing plans to provide dining services and relocate existing programs and activities during the renovations, which are expected to take several years.