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Duke Kunshan University breaks ground on 47-acre expansion

A birds-eye rendering of Phase 2 construction, which will greatly increase the size of Duke Kunshan University to include new classrooms, laboratories and more. Courtesy of Duke Kunshan University.
A birds-eye rendering of Phase 2 construction, which will greatly increase the size of Duke Kunshan University to include new classrooms, laboratories and more. Courtesy of Duke Kunshan University.

Phase 2 of construction at Duke Kunshan University began this past Friday, and the expansion is projected to more than double the current size of the campus.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Chancellor Feng Youmei, Executive Vice Chancellor Denis Simon, DKU board members and leaders of other universities gathered to celebrate this next step toward DKU’s completion.

“Compared with Phase 1, Phase 2 integrates the entire campus from the perspective of academic[s] and operation,” Simon wrote in an email to The Chronicle. “There are individual buildings for [the] library, [the] community center and [the] sports complex which are absent in Phase 1.”

Phase 1's construction began in 2010 and was finished in August 2019, culminating in the completion of the Innovation Center, a three-story building that houses laboratories, a library, classrooms and conference rooms. Its construction included six buildings and 750,000 square feet. 

Phase 2 will see the development of 22 buildings totaling 1,648,299 square feet that span across 46.95 acres. This includes 1,260,798 square feet above the ground and 387,501 square feet below.

Inside the new buildings will be 26 new classrooms and 18 to 22 new laboratories. This will increase DKU’s capacity to 2,000 undergraduate students, 500 to 800 graduate students and 800 employees, according to DKU’s press release on Friday.

DKU’s underground garage will also have a higher capacity and improved safety for students and employees, Simon wrote. 

"The Kunshan government is yet to publicly disclose the total cost of Phase 2 so we are unable to provide that figure,” wrote Craig McIntosh, senior editor for the office of communications at DKU, in an email to The Chronicle.

At the forefront of Phase 2 construction are a focus on students, flexibility in design and the use of sustainable materials. Simon described the overall theme as “a world-class liberal arts research oriented university with multiple high tech features.” 

Another goal for the construction is LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, Simon wrote. The visitor center will earn a platinum certification, while four other buildings will earn gold and five more silver.

The design plan allows for as much open green space as possible for student activities, while including water features limited to a small fountain and some ponds.

Phase 2 is set for completion by the end of 2021. 

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