The architects behind the upcoming West Union Building renovation are hosting an open house discussion Tuesday to present the new plans for the future image of West Campus.
David Cook and David Burke of Grimshaw Architects will be speaking to any interested students from 5 to 7 p.m. in Von Canon A. In addition to presenting the early stages of the plans, the architects will be looking for feedback from students on the renovations.
“We believe that student leadership has been very informed, but we also believe that perhaps students in general would like to know more about the project,” Rick Johnson, assistant vice president of Student Affairs for Housing, Dining and Residence Life, wrote in an email Monday.
The renovation, funded by an $80 million gift from the Charlotte-based Duke Endowment, will revamp the building with a student life space modelled after the Link in Perkins and an expanded dining area inspired by Eataly, a city block of restaurants in New York City run by chef Mario Batali. Construction has already begun on the Events Pavilion, which will house dining facilities while West Union undergoes renovation. Construction on West Union itself will begin this summer.
Student representatives from Duke Student Government and Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee have been involved in West Union planning for over a year, but some members of the student body feel disconnected from the renovation process. When asked what he knew about the West Union renovation, freshman Logan Brundage admitted to not being in the loop.
“I know that Subway and Chik-fil-A won’t be part of the new Union, but I don’t know what is replacing them. Other than that, I know nothing,” Brundage said.
Despite not knowing much about the renovations and only being on campus for a few months, Brundage said he is confident that tomorrow’s event will provide an important forum for students to give input and influence the West Union renovations for the better. He also added that of all the classes currently on campus, the freshmen would be most affected by the renovations so it is important that their voices be represented at this open house.
“If students can take part in the planning now, it will be more likely that the finished result will better suit students in years to come,” he said.
Sophomore Drew Underwood, who also expressed unfamiliarity with the plans, said he was not as excited about the open house.
“At this point, the administrative things have been done, and construction has already began,” Underwood said. “Regardless of our feedback, be it positive or negative, it’s going to happen.”
The Office of Student Affairs plans to continue relying mostly on small groups of student representatives to confer with about the renovations, but hopes to include some opinions from the larger student body using student groups like DSG and social media to spread the word.
“The project is large, complex and multi-year,” Johnson said. “The open house is a good way to supplement smaller discussions and I foresee more of that type of discussion to reach the general student population.”