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Students frustrated with plaza delay

<p>West Union, now officially named the Brodhead Center, undergoing renovations in 2016.</p>

West Union, now officially named the Brodhead Center, undergoing renovations in 2016.

Following news of delays in the full opening of West Union and the reopening of the plaza, students have expressed disappointment.

The West Union will open in phases, with its first-floor pub—known as Devil’s Krafthouse—debuting to the public Feb. 29, said Sarah Burdick, director of administration and special projects, in an article published in The Chronicle Jan. 21. The rest of the West Union—which has been undergoing renovations for two and a half years—is scheduled to open June 1. The plaza is currently being reconstructed and will not be reopened to the public until the crane is removed, probably sometime in March, Burdick said.

At the start of the West Union project, the plaza was scheduled to be reconstructed in December 2015, but Burdick said the major pedestrian walkway will be reopened in the spring, weather permitting. As a result, seniors have noted that they will not be able to experience the West Union before they graduate.

“Duke has spent the last three plus years saying how they’re working to improve campus for their students, but they’ve shown an extraordinary lack of regard to their current tuition payers,” senior Jesse Honig said. “Especially frustrating is the promise that every student will get to enjoy the new West Union, but continuing to push back and delay the opening hasn’t allowed that to happen.”

Other students have become resigned to the delays in this major construction project.

“I wasn’t surprised, since a couple of the other construction projects on campus have been delayed,” junior Bemenet Getachew said. “It is still unfortunate though, especially for this year’s seniors. At least we get to experience West Union for all of next year.”

Senior Emily Schmitz also said that the delays were unsurprising to her and that she was frustrated that her classmates would not be able to benefit from the construction.

The West Union project has faced delays from the start. During a Board of Trustees meeting in May 2013, the initial plans for the West Union were rejected, forcing a redesign.

“Once we had an agreed upon design from the Duke Community the schedule was determined and we are on that schedule,” said Bill McCraw, project manager for the West Union. “The early delays during design were to establish consensus between all stakeholders, students, faculty, staff and senior administration.”

McCraw also noted that there have not been any drastic changes in plans for West Union.

The first floor of the West Union will house seven dining vendors, which include Enzo’s Pizza, Sitar Indian Palace and Saladelia, and areas to socialize. Throughout the year, the West Union vendors have been holding tastings on the Bryan Center plaza to receive student feedback and build excitement for their opening.

The second floor of will have meeting spaces and social spaces. The third floor will house the Faculty Commons as well as rooftop dining.


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