Duke Engineering Building Takes Step on the Road to Construction

DURHAM, N.C. - A Duke University Board of Trustees committee Friday approved the design of a $97 million West Campus building complex that will more than double the Pratt School of Engineering's teaching and laboratory space and bridge the boundaries between research disciplines.

The 320,000-square-foot structure, tentatively called the Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering and Applied Sciences (CIEAS), consists of west and east wings joined by a central court. It will be located at the north end
of what is now the Divinity School parking lot and in a wooded area to the west. A portion of Science Drive will be closed and the area between engineering's Hudson Hall and the new building will form a pedestrian plaza.

The trustees' Buildings and Grounds Committee action was a key step on the road to the final construction go-ahead, expected at the board's May meeting. Groundbreaking is planned this spring, with the building expected to be completed in August 2004.

The complex's west wing will house the Pratt School's new Fitzpatrick Center for Photonics and Communications Systems, and the larger east wing will house new interdisciplinary initiatives in biomedical engineering and materials sciences. About 45,000 square feet will be occupied by the School of Medicine, which is contributing to the construction cost.

"This building is about leveraging excellence irrespective of departments and schools," said Robert L. Clark, senior associate dean for research and new initiatives at the Pratt School.

The center, designed by the Zimmer-Gunsul-Frasca Partnership of Bethesda, Md., will feature undergraduate teaching and project labs, state-of-the-art research facilities and a variety of spaces where faculty and students can both formally meet and informally interact. The Pratt School now has 101,000 square feet of teaching and research space.