QuadEx takes steps towards building quad identities with arch designs

Each of Duke’s seven West Campus quads will soon have a “Quad Arch” — a symbol that will represent each dorm’s unique identity.

Since QuadEx's announcement last fall, Duke has expressed a goal of making sure each quad “will develop its own identity, traditions and social events.” 

The Quad Arches aim to encapsulate each quad’s “characteristics and narratives of the physical Quads themselves” by incorporating plants, animals and “unique features” of each building in their designs, according to a poster in Marketplace created by the Quad Identity Project. QIP, which is part of QuadEx, spearheaded the Quad Arches project. 

Landy Elliott, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education, helped to create QIP, which began this spring. QIP receives guidance from QuadEx faculty fellows and academic guides, but she emphasized that it is largely driven by students. 

“The Quad Identity Project is about helping all students feel a connection — through shared experiences — to the places they live and the people who live there,” Elliot wrote in an email to The Chronicle.

According to the QIP poster, the Quad Arch is a deviation from the traditional crest figure, which has been discarded due to its associated history of “battle and bloodshed” and “exclusive lineages,” according to the QIP’s Quad Arches poster in Marketplace.

By turning the crest upside down, the resulting arch “[works] with the traditional visual language that is all around Duke,” the poster read.

“You walk through [arches] every day,” said Elaine Guo, a sophomore and member of the Craven Quad Identity Team. “I think it’s a very physical sense of Duke and what these arches can stand for.” 

According to the poster, each arch will encompass 10 elements, including two colors, arbor, foliage, fauna, a date, number and motto. Elements were decided by a joint effort between the Quad Council and Quad Identity Teams during the Quad Identity Teams Retreat in August.

“We did a lot of research about Duke’s past, the history of the residential living and housing at Duke, as well as a detailed tour of the architectural features around all of the different quads,” Guo said. “We hope to really symbolize each quad identity for its past, current and future residents.”  

Quaid Sutherland, a sophomore and member of Edens QIT, says that their QIT plans on making stairs for the Edens Arch partitioning because “stairs are very emblematic of Edens,” said.

“Arbor [might be] English Ivy. Even though it’s not native here, it's all back throughout Edens,” Sutherland said. 

Quad mottos were based on Duke University’s motto, “Eruditio et Religio,” which translates to “Faith and Learning,” or “Religion and Knowledge,” according to Nicholas Chrapliwy, Trinity ‘22 and QIP director. Each motto will have two values that “support, balance, and uphold each other,” Chrapliwy wrote. 

According to Chrapliwy, Kilgo chose Wandering and Discovery (“Pererratio et Repertum”) because of how “Kilgo Quad is confusing to get around and how you have to discover your own dorm room several times,” but also because “those two qualities apply to the experience of finding your purpose and strength while wandering through classes and experiences at Duke."

Edens chose Descending and Ascending (“Descendens et Ascendens”) to represent how reaching Edens requires “descending and ascending many staircases," but also how the Duke experience "involves many ups and downs.”

The mottos that don’t reference a particular physical feature of the Quads will reference characteristics of Duke students in general, according to Chrapliwy. 

Creators of the Quad Arches hope to use the Arches to develop community pride and a basis for belonging.

“In day-to-day life, you could imagine seeing a student spot someone standing next to them in line in [the Brodhead Center] — whom they might not know — wearing elements of their Quad Arch on a t-shirt and instantly recognize that that’s a member of their quad,” Elliott wrote.  

Additionally, Quad Arches could be placed on stickers, official University functions and in permanent places around campus.

Because the Quad Arches will ultimately symbolize large and diverse groups of students, Sutherland said that community feedback is crucial. 

“One thing [QIP] wanted to emphasize is that it was actually a student-based thing, and that it wasn’t some higher ups at Duke deciding on something and pushing it through,” Sutherland said.

Last week, QIP tabled on the BC Plaza to share its plans for the Arches with students. Some students were excited to see how the Quad Arches will play a role in fostering a sense of belonging, while others were less optimistic.

Sophomore Stephanie Minaya likened the initiative to the community Duke students have built and gained through their love for sports. 

“Everyone is there for basketball games, and everyone builds off just having a community,” Minaya said. “I feel like [the Quad Arches project] has potential. I think it’s a really cool idea.” 

Junior Sean Li thinks that the Quad Arches project has its merits, but believes the culture of a living space is ultimately designated by the people that live inside of it.

“It’s really hard to come up with a distinct identity that will fit a random selection of people very well,” he said.

Public reveal for the Quad Arches is currently slated for January and February. The process for beginning East Campus houses’ “visual identities” will begin next spring.

Andrew Bae profile
Andrew Bae | Editor-at-Large

Andrew Bae is a Trinity junior and an editor-at-large of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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