Kostas Drakakis, project manager for the divinity addition, said he and his colleagues at Harman-Cox Architects in Washington, D.C., are “always appreciative and open to ideas.” But the prospect of adding two arches, each of which required an additional two tons of limestone, was not met with enthusiasm. Eventually, howev er, Jones’ vision prevailed.
“At the time, those arches seemed undoable,” says Steven Hess, project manager with SKANSKA, which served as the general contractor. “But those arches really enrich the space. I commend Susan for being persistent.”
Adds architect Drakakis, “She pushed us to do certain things that made a big difference.”
Visualizing the three-level addition was akin to writing a sermon, says Jones. The “text” became the university’s motto of Eruditio et Religio. The library at the east end of the divinity building was the “the bookend for Eruditio,” says Jones. “Goodson Chapel became the opposite pole: Religio, which was appropriate given its placement beside Duke Chapel.”
The 53,000-square-foot addition/renovation created particular challenges for Building Coordinator Terry Hall, who oversaw a total of 78 office moves in just over a year for faculty and staff. The Alumni Memorial Common Room furnishings had to be moved so that space could serve as the Student Lounge during the past academic year.
“Each move has a domino effect on the next,” says Hall, who came to the divinity school with 21 years experience as a moving coordinator. Changing offices and furniture—particularly with the noise and inconvenience of major construction—can be stressful for all involved, adds Hall.
Creating space that enhanced hospitality and community was primary—whether in planning for a new office suite for admissions and student life, a new bookstore adjacent to the refectory and terrace, the placement of restrooms, or designing hallways wide enough to allow for facultystudent conversation without impeding traffic.
A building committee, which included students, worked from a needs assessment conducted at the outset of the project. “We really kept students in mind in creating the new space,” says Jones.
The foundation of Jones’ vision was her own theological formation at Duke. Raised in a fundamentalist Southern Baptist church, she chose to attend seminary at Duke in 1980 to “get away from hearing the Bible taught and preached in distorted ways.
“Duke Divinity School was the first place where I felt I had a ‘theological home’ — a place where people spoke a language that I wanted to learn,” she says. “Using that language—the language of Scripture—to help shape the new building is especially meaningful for me.
“I believe that ‘people shape spaces,’ but ‘spaces also shape people’ in the way they are configured and lived in,” says Jones. “As one of the architects said many times, ‘This isn't a project, it's a privilege.’”
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