Duke plans to address rising costs of housing in Durham by building new graduate student apartments off of West Campus.
According to Director of Project Management Paul Manning, the new apartments will be located in the woods south of Towerview Road, east of Erwin Road and west of the Fuqua School of Business. The apartments will prioritize sustainability, as they will be constructed from the trees that will be removed to make space for them.
Other features will include surface ponds to collect stormwater and veneers for hardwood, Manning wrote in an email.
The project will follow Duke’s high performance building guidelines, a framework for sustainability in construction that the University developed to meet Duke’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, according to Timothy Johnson, associate professor of the practice in energy and the environment. The guidelines will govern the design process of the building from start to end.
"If followed, the result will be buildings that use less energy than those that meet our current LEED policy,” Johnson wrote in an email to The Chronicle.
Duke is currently negotiating the land lease contract for the area to be used, Manning wrote, and the project will take one year to design and two years to construct.
The rising cost of living in Durham fueled Duke’s decision to construct the apartments.
“Due to the successful growth of Durham, rental costs in Durham are becoming expensive,” Manning wrote.
These costs have been a source of concern for some Duke graduate students. JoonYup Park, a doctoral candidate in economics, said that housing prices are “expensive compared to [graduate student] stipends.” Whether he would use these new apartments would depend upon the financial cost and availability of parking around them.
Duke’s graduate students are currently on their own when it comes to finding housing off campus. Housing and Residential Life does provide opportunities for housing in 301 Swift for first-year graduate and professional students on visa status. However, other students have to rely on services like DukeList, which has a catalog of housing, or nearduke.com, a database provided by The Chronicle.
“It is the responsibility of the student to obtain housing,” the Graduate School admissions website reads.
Usaid Awan, a doctoral candidate in economics, lives near the airport after living for a couple years near Duke. New apartments for graduate students would show that Duke cares about graduate housing, he said, and he added that he would look into living in the apartments if they become available.
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“It’s nice to know that people are thinking about it,” Awan said.