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Let the designing begin...

The University has enlisted two nationally renowned firms to help with preliminary Central Campus plans. David M. Schwarz Architectural Services, Inc., and developers Cousins Properties, Inc., will advise on the site's master plan and financing, respectively, and will both complete six-month concept studies with the University.

University Architect John Pearce said that after reviewing proposals, interviewing team members and reviewing past projects, the University viewed both DMS and Cousins as fit for a project of the nature and scale of Central Campus.

The University has opted not to sign any long-term contracts with either firm because administrators wish to maintain flexibility in a project that is just in its fledgling stages.

Pearce said the University will not decide on long-term contracts until the six-month study is completed. He added that these contracts will not necessarily be with DMS and Cousins, depending on the direction Central Campus planning takes.

"This is a large project, and there eventually could be also a large number of buildings," Pearce said. "We could use more than one architect, more than one builder, more than one developer. We don't want to make that decision until we have a first pass at what's going to be included on Central."

So far, administrators have given DMS and Cousins only a vague outline of what they wish to see on Central Campus. Guidelines released earlier this year noted such tangible needs as 1,000 or more beds in the residential part of Central, as well as more nebulous requests such as the creation of a University Village to generate of a sense of coherence with East and West Campuses and a stronger connection with Durham.

"We want to keep as many options open as possible so we can change directions if we need to," Pearce said.

DMS, based in Washington, D.C., will help develop a potential master plan for Central Campus, sorting through such components as residential space, street grids, utilities systems and transportation plans, said Scott Selig, associate vice president for capital assets.

Some of DMS's most celebrated projects include the Ballpark in Arlington, home of the Texas Rangers; the American Airlines Center in Dallas, home of the Mavericks and Stars; the Southlake Town Center in Southlake, Tex.; and the Nashville Symphony Concert Hall.

The firm's portfolio also includes museums, commercial venues, retail centers and residential developments, among other projects. As for DMS's function with the University - advising on the Central Campus portion of the master plan - the firm has developed over 20 master plans nationwide, including one for the urban center of Fort Worth, Tex.

Michael Swartz, project manager for DMS, said working with universities is slightly different from working with other types of clients due to the more long-term views universities typically take toward their developments. He noted, however, that university work is not completely new to DMS. The firm designed Yale University's Environmental Science Center and is currently working with Vanderbilt University as well.

"We have our sleeves rolled up, and we're in the process of looking at what kinds of ways of developing the Central Campus site are best suited to the University's goals," Swartz said. He added that DMS should have a team of three to five people working on the University's master plan over the next several months, with the goal of producing a preliminary plan by sometime in the fall.

Swartz said that members of the DMS team have made multiple visits to the Central Campus site. "We're very sensitive to the fact that Ninth Street is an ingrained and important part of the urban fabric there and that those businesses play an important role in the city and also to the University, in a sense," he said. "We're here to make sure that whatever we do enhances and doesn't detract from that."

Glenn MacCullough, another architect from the D.C. area, described Schwarz's style as "traditional," opting away from buildings that are "architectonic" or really sculptural in favor of buildings "for ordinary people." MacCullough worked for Schwarz for five years, but now runs his own firm out of Arlington, Va.

"[Schwarz] is incredibly creative and a great problem solver," MacCullough said, adding that DMS is comprised of people who all work very hard to fulfill Schwarz's visions. "For a university to hire someone with that level of smartness, that level of dedication in his staff and that level of creativity - that's got to be a good thing."

MacCullough, who has visited Duke's campus, said Schwarz's traditionalist style should fit in well with the rest of the campus. He also noted that although some might find Schwarz's work overly traditional rather than inventive, people generally tend to enjoy his buildings. "He's not designing for other architects," MacCullough said.

The University will also be looking to the Atlanta-based Cousins Properties to serve as its real estate developer. Pearce said that while DMS will be working through issues such as campus layout, Cousins will help the University make sure its plans are feasible financially.

"When we went through the normal selection process for a developer, we felt that Cousins really understands this kind of development that we're aiming for," Pearce said. "They seem to understand the business of designing a campus like Central Campus."

Cousins primarily focuses on the development of retail properties and commercial and medical offices, but has also worked on projects such as mixed-use developments and residential communities.

Some of the firm's most notable developments include One Ninety One Peachtree Tower in Atlanta and the Presbyterian Medical Plaza at University in Charlotte, N.C.

A representative for Cousins Properties could not be reached for comment.


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