Central Campus update…

One of the inspirations for starting this project was the ambitious plans Duke University has for overhauling Central Campus. Officially, Duke has proposed creating a new student media center on this new campus, which could be home to The Chronicle, and as well as the student TV station (Cable13) and radio station (WXDU) and others.

The Chronicle, as an independent organization, needs to decide whether it wants to be part of the new Central Campus, or whether to push for a new home elsewhere. We’ll be looking at the question of location and what role it plays in the newsroom of the future. But in general, we’re agnostic about whether the newsroom we propose gets built on Central or somewhere else. Hopefully, our research over the next year will guide us toward making a recommendation, and that could well be that Central is the best spot.

In any case, because Central Campus looms large at Duke and for this project, I’ll be providing regular updates on the progress of the campus planning. Here, then, is a story that appeared the Herald-Sun of Durham on July 17, nothing that Duke has selected a new architect (registration required), something that sounds exciting, but will also delay the project’s groundbreaking for at least a year. That’s fine with us, because it gives us more breathing room to pursue this project and get a proposal in the hands of Duke officials next May:

Duke University has hired one of the world’s top architects to take a fresh look at the design for its Central Campus redevelopment and spell out exactly how the project should unfold over the next 50 years.

Campus leaders announced the choice of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects on Tuesday. The firm’s founder, Cesar Pelli, will lead the project team personally and said he expects to deliver a tentative master plan for Central Campus to Duke’s Board of Trustees in February.

Pelli, who’s 80, is renowned as the designer of Malaysia’s Petronas Towers and a host of other noteworthy projects in cities throughout the world. His firm’s credits include campus plans for the University of Texas at Austin and Rice University, and two brand-new campuses in Argentina, Pelli’s native country.

Provost Peter Lange and other Duke officials are equally happy about bringing Pelli on board, although they concede the upcoming design work will delay the start of construction on Central Campus by about a year, until at least late 2008.


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