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Duke University: Growth Rooted in Tradition

By Cynthia Braden, Marketing Coordinator for HadenStanziale with contributions from principal George Stanziale and senior associate Karen Weston-Chien.






Creating tranquil and private outdoor retreats for patients and their families is part of the DUMC's approach to holistic medicine. Keeping that desired style in mind, HadenStanziale helped create unique site plans with distinctive landscape designs. Photo Courtesy of Peter Brentlinger

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The beautifully landscaped campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C., spans 1,400 acres and is reminiscent of the universities of the Old World. Over the past two decades, Duke has actively pursued a rapid expansion plan which has resulted in the initiation of more than 34 major construction projects at a cost of $835 million in the past five years alone.

Projects of this magnitude present opportunities for locally and nationally recognized planners, designers and architects to showcase their talents at one of the nation's most prestigious institutions. A fast-paced expansion plan also makes for a challenging zoning and approval process. One planning and design firm has built a solid relationship with Duke by integrating the university's ambitious building program with the design themes that make the campus recognizable.

During the past 20 years, the Durham, NC-based firm, HadenStanziale, PA, has evolved from being a Landscape Architect on specific projects for the university to being a trusted consultant assigned to nationally-recognized architectural teams. Principal George Stanziale, ASLA, CLARB, said, "When we moved to Durham in 1986 and located our office between Duke University's East and West campuses, our goal was to become their primary Landscape Architect and planning consultant."






A half-acre retreat called, the Healing Garden, showcases Duke Stone seating walls, water features, wooden benches and an assortment of flowering and fragrant plants with historic healing characteristics. Weathertight power outlets allow ambulatory patients to use the space. Echinacea and lavender were used at the site of the Healing Garden for their pleasing scent. Photo Courtesy of Peter Brentlinger


"The Research Triangle region of North Carolina has a wealth of talented architects, planners and landscape architects, so my goal was lofty," Stanziale admitted. "Duke prides itself in hiring the best and brightest architects from around the country. It became clear that our place in Duke's long list of design professionals would be to provide local knowledge of the plan approval process and of Durham's codes and ordinances. We became a key member of the design team because of our strong understanding of Duke University's desire to create a walkable campus with quality public spaces and linkages to various parts of the campus and superior landscape design to compliment the world-class architecture."

In 2000, a new Duke University Master Plan was approved that defined future growth and development. The key design-related components in the plan identified Duke as a: campus that is historic and dynamic; premier university; walkable campus; citizen of Durham; community of communities; collection of memorable places; internationally recognized medical center.

By recognizing each of these features and seeing that overall aesthetics and quality standards are incorporated throughout the design process and implementation, HadenStanziale has become an advocate for the University. Stanziale says that a "walk through the Duke University campus is a memorable one because of the consistent landscape plan, open community areas and gardens, and architecture unique to Durham."






HadenStanziale PA, a landscape architecture firm, has been a part of Duke University's growth process throughout the past 20 years.

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A Campus that is Historic and Dynamic

In 1924, Duke University was created and named in honor of Washington Duke, a wealthy Durham, businessman and philanthropist. In 1932, the Duke Endowment Building Committee issued a report allocating new construction costs of nearly $5 million to the East Campus and more than $16 million to the West Campus. The Committee also dedicated yet another $99,000 for the purchase of 5,080 acres of land. At the time, it was heralded as the largest building permit ever issued in the South. To this day, Duke University continues its aggressive building program.






The entrance for the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club is built of Duke Stone which is found in 17 shades of seven primary colors at a quarry outside of Durham. The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club is located on 300 acres within the Duke University campus and is lined by pine trees and hardwoods. The championship golf course was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1955. Renovation by his son, Rees Jones, began in 1988 and construction was completed in 1994. Photo Courtesy of John Ripley


The new expansion plan set forth by the 2000 Master Plan includes two new public policy buildings; engineering, nursing, law and divinity schools; a library; an art museum; medical science research facilities; new dormitories; student activities / fitness facilities; indoor and outdoor tennis facilities; parking decks; medical clinics; and a new front door and plaza for Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The look of the Duke campus is important to preserve while planning new development and expansion. The Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club was the first major landscape design project in which HadenStanziale was involved in 1986. While designing the entrance and signage, HadenStanziale learned of the significance of Duke Stone, which has been used extensively throughout the West Campus since the beginning of construction in 1925. Duke Stone is a soft, easily accessible, high quality stone found in the Durham area.






The Schwartz-Butters Tower, designed by architect Cesar Pelli, houses the office of Duke University basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski. HadenStanziale worked with the architect to create cohesive space within the Athletics Quad, which connects different schools and buildings within a campus quad.


HadenStanziale saw to it that plans and specifications, such as those for the Varsity Golf Practice Facility as well as for the driving range and practice greens, included Duke Stone so that new facilities would blend in with the existing buildings and landscape effects.






Pedestrian connections, sustainable landscaping, and well-maintained open spaces invite students and visitors to enjoy Duke's walkable campus, as shown in this rendering of the Medical Science and Research Building II.


A Premier University

At Duke University, standards are set high, not only for academics and athletics, but also for the design and maintenance of the campus. University architect John Pearce, FAIA, is responsible for seeing that master plans, site plans, and landscaping meet the quality standards for overall aesthetics as set forth by the university. Pearce has worked with HadenStanziale since 1992 and said that the firm has helped Duke achieve its planning and construction goals by being "responsive to the concerns of the University...while paying attention to the architect's direction."

HadenStanziale understood the dialogue of the architect and acted as a caretaker to see that the design plans followed through with the needs of the university. Many of the projects at Duke have combined the talents of HadenStanziale with some of the nation's most highly regarded architectural firms, including The Hillier Group, Cesar Pelli Associates, Duda/Paine Architects, Perkins Eastman, ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, Keiran-Timberlake Associates, and Cooper, Robertson & Partners.






The Duke University Medical Center, planners with the City of Durham, and HadenStanziale PA have worked together to rezone 1,600 acres of the campus to a University College (UC) Zoning District. UC Zoning District permits development on college and university campuses while still protecting the environment, the local community, and surrounding neighborhoods. UC Zoning encourages the visual continuity of development, the conservation of energy resources, and the reduction of automobile traffic by increasing pedestrian and bikeway connections.


A Walkable Campus

Duke University has created a walkable campus system for its students and visitors. With assistance from HadenStanziale, the university has taken strides toward a pedestrian-friendly campus by incorporating beautiful landscaping and open spaces that are well-maintained.

Those improvements included a formal walkway entry for the East Campus, pedestrian connections from the main student quad to the activities core on the West Campus, and a series of steps and pedestrian bridges and tunnels for the West Edens Link Dormitories and Courtyard. The plans for the Medical Science and Research Building II (MSRB II) on the Medical Center campus included several pedestrian spaces defined by a tree canopy.






The West Campus, with its European Gothic style and recognizable 210-foot tower of Duke Chapel, (which is seen just left of the center of the photograph) covers 720 acres. Much of the students' collegiate life is located on the West Campus Photo Courtesy of John Ripley


Pearce said, "One sign of a successful project is when the specified materials (hardscape) and plants endure which is very important working on a campus." HadenStanziale chose plant palettes based on sustainability and a reasonable maintenance schedule. Because the firm was involved in design plans throughout the entire campus, the specified landscape elements created a coherent, uniform look and made for an enjoyable pedestrian-friendly experience.

A Citizen of Durham

While HadenStanziale provided urban and landscape design, master planning, and civil engineering for projects throughout campus, the firm also served as a liaison between the university and the City of Durham planning, engineering, and transportation staff to resolve zoning, approval and permitting issues.

Pearce remembered that HadenStanziale was initially chosen for projects at the sole discretion of the architect. By displaying a balance, with good follow-through and good, quality design on projects, the firm's reputation with the university grew. An understanding of the local zoning and plan approval process has flourished into a good working relationship with Durham. Pearce said that HadenStanziale is knowledgeable about the specifics of [a site plan] approval.

More than 1,600 acres throughout the Duke University Campus and Medical Center (DUMC) was initially zoned as a residential district. HadenStanziale worked with city planners and the university to rezone the entire campus to a newly developed University-College (UC) Zoning District, which allowed the DUMC to expand without the need for special permitting or city council approval.






A programmable or multi-use lawn which could accommodate special events, such as a stage or tent, was specified for the Terry Sanford Institute building. Pockets of existing vegetation were maintained to break up the open views on approximately six acres. Day lilies and daffodils were planted for spring color. The landscape plan included a massing of Yoshino cherry trees to mark the project entrance. Crape myrtles encircled the roundabout within the programmable lawn. Other shrubs included forsythia, magnolias and camellias Photo Courtesy of John Ripley

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Gregory Warwick, AIA, DUMC and Health System architect, who directed design and construction projects at the 200-acre Medical Center Precinct at Duke, said that the greatest challenges he encounters during the growth and improvement process were zoning and civic approvals. To overcome these challenges, he enlisted HadenStanziale because of the firm's landscape design excellence and local knowledge. Warwick said, "George Stanziale is our most reliable consultant for working productively with the city, serving as city liaison, as well as giving quality direction to design of open spaces on the Duke Medical campus."

A Community of Communities

Duke University is a community of communities. Within the entire campus system are the East Campus and the West Campus. While each has its own distinct architectural style and personality, both have design elements that make up the Duke look.






A "Tenting Tradition" in Krzyzewskiville developed in the Athletics Quad as students slept overnight in tents in order to purchase tickets to Blue Devils men's basketball games. The university wished to maintain this deeply beloved tradition while still accommodating the students; so when the time came to make landscape design improvements to the quad area, Duke called for modern technology to be infused with the established character of the site. Photo Courtesy of John Ripley

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The original 97-acre East Campus, built in American Georgian architecture style, is the site of the former Trinity College. In 1995, the East Campus became the home for freshman dormitories. Duke University wanted to transform the area to a more comfortable and active environment for the first-year students to play and interact with one another. HadenStanziale provided solutions in the East Campus Master Plan, which created a women's lacrosse field, two lighted multipurpose intramural fields, tennis courts and a formal pedestrian entry into campus.

The West Campus, with its European Gothic style and recognizable 210-foot tower of Duke Chapel, covers 720 acres. Much of the students' collegiate life (housing, administration buildings, library, science and engineering buildings, and the sports facilities) is located on the West Campus. HadenStanziale focused the West Campus Planning Study on a new entry plaza area, access road realignment, and improvements to pedestrian connections from the main student quad to the activities core.

Also on the West Campus is the Terry Sanford Institute of Policy Sciences Building. HadenStanziale's site design for the building expansion will draw in the student community by enclosing the open lawn to create a formal greenspace and plaza for outdoor teaching, study and special events, such as graduation ceremonies.

A Collection of Memorable Places

One of the most memorable places at Duke University for students and visitors alike is the West Campus Athletics Quad. Anyone who has attended or visited Duke University during basketball season has witnessed the tenting phenomenon at Krzyzewskiville. For months, students set up tents in the grassy area named for Coach Mike Krzyzewski to wait in line for free tickets to home basketball games.

The university wished to maintain this deeply beloved tradition while still accommodating the students; so when the time came to make landscape design improvements to the quad area, Duke called for modern technology to be infused with the established character of the site. HadenStanziale rose to the challenge by specifying wireless network connections in the lighting around the quad. Now students can still pursue their coursework and research while tenting. The university still maintains a high quality pedestrian space the rest of the year.






HadenStanziale provided the overall design of the flooring patterns, colors, fountains, seating arrangements, potted plant materials and specification of the black ceramic pots used throughout the DUMC North Hospital Lobby. The goal was to create segregated and private seating areas for families and friends visiting patients


An Internationally Recognized Medical Center

Creating tranquil and private outdoor retreats for patients and their families is part of the DUMC's approach to holistic medicine. Keeping that desired style in mind, HadenStanziale helped create unique site plans with distinctive landscape designs for the following DUMC projects:

  • The Center for Living Master Plan improves overall circulation and accommodates future growth and supports the desired privacy of clients of the Aesthetic Services Clinic. Extensive landscaping and pedestrian walkways link the new clinics to adjacent buildings within the complex.
  • The MSRB II is a new medical research building with a 900-space parking structure. Accent paving and landscape elements complement the architecture of the building, an open lawn area and seasonal plantings.
  • The Dining Area Courtyard and Fragrance Garden is situated between the Duke North Hospital, Eye Care Center and Main Hospital Cafeteria. Lush plantings and meandering walkways provide tranquil places for relaxation and reflection. An open courtyard with benches offers a space to enjoy a sunny day. The sensory garden provides an alternative space for patients and visitors to enjoy.
  • A half-acre retreat called, the Healing Garden, showcases Duke Stone seating walls, water features, wooden benches and an assortment of flowering and fragrant plants with historic healing characteristics. Weathertight power outlets allow ambulatory patients to use the space.
  • The DUMC Lobby Courtyard, tucked away between two sections of the Medical Center, provides direct access to the main hospital entrance and lobby. An elevated pedestal paving system allows for a constant level grade with planters and courtyard draining beneath the paving. Careful selection of plant materials and attention to drainage options make this a welcoming and functional space.
  • The North Hospital Main Entrance and Street Corridor Study unified the medical center environment through streetscape plantings, pedestrian corridors, and lighting improvements. The concept design provides a warm, inviting approach to the Duke North Hospital, reinforces visitor orientation and reduces the hospital's institutional appearance.
  • The DUMC North Hospital Lobby provides a comfortable lounge for patients, their families and visitors. Details, such as paving patterns, planter walls and fountains, give an upscale and friendly feel to the hospital lobby.

Duke University's distinct architecture and landscaping that is seen on the Medical Center campus can be found in the design themes throughout the East and West campuses as well. University and Medical Center architects have assigned HadenStanziale to its prestigious design teams to accomplish rapid expansion plan goals. Stanziale noted, "By understanding the needs of the University, the City of Durham, and the architects, we can preserve and protect the identity of Duke University during the planning, site approval and construction processes."



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December 6, 2019, 1:13 pm PDT

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