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Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center, Duke University

Durham, NC
  • Bldg system

    Mass Timber

  • No. Of Stories


  • Sq. footage


Duke University’s new alumni and visitors center is the first structure people see as they arrive on campus, and administrators wanted it to reflect the institution’s history and character. They wanted a design that aligns with Duke’s description as a “University in the Forest,” and signifies their commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The four-building complex includes an event center with large lobby, a meeting pavilion, the historic Forlines House with meeting rooms and offices, and a new office building for the Alumni Association. The buildings are organized around a central court and outdoor arcade. Wood was used inside and out as both structure and finish to enhance the connection between the built and natural environment. The two public buildings feature vaulted ceilings formed by complex southern pine glulam arches, which allow space for clerestory daylighting. Wood ceiling panels are spaced for acoustic control. Floors are red oak, and the wood paneling, desks and cabinetry are made from white oak harvested from Duke’s own forests. The arcade was built using cypress glulam, selected for durability, and constructed to match the soaring glulam arches inside.

  • Construction Type:


  • Building Type:

    Assembly (Worship, Restaurant, Theater)

  • Material Types:

    Mass Timber

Companies Involved:
  • Centerbrook Architects and Planners


  • LeChase Construction


Individuals Involved:
  • Mark Simon, FAIA


  • Robert Stevenson

    Structural Engineer

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