Changes are coming to the Bryan Center starting this fall, including office moves and future renovations, in a project in conjunction with QuadEx, Duke’s new living and learning initiative.
These proposed changes will support “spatial equity” by prioritizing spaces for affinity groups, according to a design firm's final report of recommendations sent to student leaders from Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president of student affairs, and Shruti Desai, associate vice president of student engagement, on Wednesday evening.
Short-term recommendations, which will be made in the next five years, include relocating student affinity and student support offices within the existing building to make them more visible, per the report. Long-term recommendations include plans for a complete renovation of the space.
The project is estimated to cost between $85 million and $110 million, and is promised to “enhance the student experience and address the shortcomings of the building.”
Funding has not yet been identified and the timeline for long-term changes is indefinite, according to Leslie Heusted, interim assistant vice president for campus life.
In October 2021, administrators sparked frustration among student leaders when they announced that the Career Center would move to the first-floor suite of the Bryan Center, 0101, which had been vacated by the Office of Student Affairs. Student identity and cultural groups remarked in an open letter that administrators had previously promised the space “to multiple student groups who have been demanding more space for decades.”
That fall, Student Affairs initiated a study to examine the allocation of spaces within the Bryan Center due to concerns about the location and visibility of student affinity group space in the Bryan Center, per the report.
"The purpose of this report was to understand feasibility and associated costs for short and long term adjustments," Heusted wrote in an email to The Chronicle Thursday. "Based on the report we followed some suggestions for short-term changes and will continue to explore longer term recommendations."
Finalized office moves are listed below.
Sasaki, a design firm, implemented hundreds of responses to stakeholder meetings, feedback sessions and student surveys. A MyCampus Survey was conducted “to gather additional feedback on the Bryan Center and the West Campus in general,” with 474 students responding, representing 2.8% of the student body, per the report.
Per the report, students identified student affinity spaces, including La Casa and the Center for Multicultural Affairs, as among the most welcoming spaces on campus. Many students responded with a desire for increased spaces for events, group study areas and spaces for graduate students.
“The ideal program for the building prioritizes visible spaces on the Upper Level for the Center for Multicultural Affairs, and for the affinity groups. It also includes new spaces for the Women’s Center, International House, Center for Muslim Life, and the Career Center,” the report read.
The Center for Multicultural Affairs, International House and Religious Life Offices would take over Suite 0101 space that used to house Student Affairs.
On the mid-level, Suite 0030 would be repurposed as a “shared student affinity group space housing the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Base, Duke Native American Student Alliance, La Casa, Black Student Association and Disabled Student Alliance.”
Duke Student Government would keep their space, and the Graduate and Professional Student Government would be placed in the office next door.
On the lower level, the University Center Activities & Events Business and Finance Office would vacate Suite 0004 and the UCAE offices from the mid level suite would be relocated to the lower level.
Graduate students would have a space on the lower level and the corner suite would be reserved for the Career Center. One remaining suite and conference room would be a reservable meeting space that can be used by any group in the building.
The long-term recommendations laid out in the report reconsider the building as a “destination for student engagement and gathering,” with a central atrium space.
In the proposed long-term plan, student affinity spaces would have reserved locations on the upper level, accomplishing the goal of making these groups “more visible and accessible on the main floor of the building.”
The mid-level of the building would be reserved for “student-facing support services and additional student group spaces such as student government spaces.”
The lower level would include a variety of new multipurpose rooms and a central gathering space. Administrative and management offices will also be located on this level.
Additionally, the plans call for a “one-story addition on the south side” to expand the multipurpose space. The roof of the south-side addition will become a terrace on the mid-level of the building.
The entrances on the north and south sides of the building would be rebuilt and a new elevator on the south side would connect all levels of the building, addressing the lack of an accessible entrance on the south side.
Office moves within Bryan Center
The following are some new locations for offices within the Bryan Center, which were finalized over the summer, according to Heusted:
Student Involvement and Leadership
Center for Multicultural Affairs
Student Group and Affinity Lounge
DSG- Duke Student Government
GPSG- Graduate and Professional Student Government
MGC- Multicultural Greek Council
NPHC- National Panhellenic Council
and 3-5 additional affinity groups that are currently being determined
Conference and Event Services
Editor's Note: This article was updated Thursday afternoon with new information provided by Leslie Heusted, including office moves finalized over the summer. The article was updated Thursday afternoon again to clarify that office moves, not renovations will begin in the fall.
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Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Katie Tan is a Trinity junior and digital strategy director of The Chronicle's 119th volume. She was previously managing editor for Volume 118.