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First steps around Duke Kunshan’s stunning new Phase 2 campus

Duke Kunshan University began an exciting new chapter in its history this week with the opening of its expanded campus.

Students, faculty and staff took their first steps around the completed Phase 2 site after a temporary construction barrier separating it from Phase 1 was removed on Monday.

Buildings and facilities will gradually open in the coming weeks before the official Phase 2 launch ceremony on Aug. 13, which will be attended by leaders from Duke Kunshan and its founding partners — Duke University, Wuhan University and the city of Kunshan.

The view of the upgraded DKU campus taken from near the south entrance

The new development more than doubles the active campus footprint to 83 acres, adding state-of-the-art research and classroom space, arts and music facilities, leisure and sports areas and much more.

Qian Qihu, of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, with Chancellor Youmei Feng on launch day

“Through the joint efforts of Kunshan city and the universities of Duke, Wuhan and Duke Kunshan, an innovative, beautiful and green campus has been delivered to DKU students, faculty and staff for generations to come,” said Duke Kunshan Chancellor Youmei Feng.

“The Phase 2 campus is crucial to the growth of Duke Kunshan. It not only complements the Phase 1 facilities, but supports the development and expansion of DKU’s academic offerings.

“I appreciate the dedication and hard work of all the teams and individuals who contributed to the project.”

Members of the DKU community explore Phase 2

Interim Executive Vice Chancellor Dr. Mary Frances Luce, said, “The launch of Phase 2 is a pivotal moment in Duke Kunshan’s development as an international hub of innovation and education.

“It significantly scales up DKU’s research, learning and leisure facilities to provide a comprehensive, unified campus that is well equipped to nurture future generations of global leaders and play an important role in tackling some of the major challenges facing society.”

Phase 2 contains 22 new buildings housing everything from high-spec laboratories, flexible classrooms and breakout learning areas to sprawling sports and library facilities, a 320-capacity theater and communal areas thoughtfully designed to encourage planned and serendipitous interactions.

A beacon of sustainable development, the overall campus design embraces features from the classical Chinese water towns of Jiangnan and the traditions of DKU’s founding institutions, Duke University and Wuhan University.

Looking east along Academic Avenue

Complementary to the water feature focus of Phase 1, the second phase is characterized by spacious green areas, including open plazas, landscaped spaces and tree-lined pathways.

The Community Center, which is immediately visible from the new main entrance to the south and its landmark 28.24-meter-high tower, will be a hive of activity for the whole campus, fostering academic, social and cultural interactions.

Visitor Center

The view from the new south entrance

Also at the epicenter of the enlarged campus and surrounding a grass quadrangle modeled on Duke’s Abele Quad, are the Administration Building, which is the center of university operations, and the Library, home to 280,000 books and a traditional Chinese tea house.

Duke Kunshan’s focus on interdisciplinary research and cross-cultural collaboration is represented in the WHU-Duke Research Institute, which sits next to Phase 1’s Academic Building and Innovation Building to form an innovation and learning cluster.

Inside the Administration Building

The theater in the Community Center

The student accommodation is concentrated in the north of campus close to the Sports Complex and its outdoor facilities, which include a full-size soccer pitch, athletics track and tennis courts.

Map of Duke Kunshan campus:

*Phase 2 covers the area east of Main Street

Duke Kunshan’s commitment to environmental sustainability and carbon neutrality is reflected throughout the project’s design.

For example, 90 percent of the green spaces in Phase 2 are maintained using treated rainwater via a micro-jet irrigation system, while DKU-led research supports glass designs to prevent bird-window collisions.

Sports Complex

Administration Building

Phase 2 is coming to life just as Duke Kunshan prepares for the graduation of the Class of 2023 later this month and ahead of its 10th anniversary in September.

DKU was established in 2013 as a Sino-U.S. joint-venture partnership between Duke University, Wuhan University and the city of Kunshan.

Its academic programs blend Chinese and American learning techniques within a truly global perspective.

Click here for more about Phase 2 and its facilities.

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