New Building to Advance Engineering Education, Research

February 27, 2018

New 150,000-square-foot facility will house education, research and entrepreneurship initiatives at the Pratt School of Engineering

Duke University will soon begin constructing a 150,000-square-foot building to house new education, research and entrepreneurship initiatives at the Pratt School of Engineering. Site preparation is already under way for construction to begin in March 2018, with the building scheduled for completion in November 2020, opening in time for Spring 2021 classes.

The approximately $115-million facility will position Duke Engineering to achieve its vision for transforming the student experience and enhancing the sciences through interdisciplinary collaborations focused on health, computing and the environment, according to Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Vinik Dean of Engineering.

"This is a transformational project that will help catapult Duke Engineering to the next level of impact in education and research," said Bellamkonda. "We are grateful to Duke's Board of Trustees and senior leadership for supporting this investment in our future, and to our alumni and friends for their continued enthusiastic and generous support. We are excited about the opportunities this space will provide to help us achieve our 'outrageous ambitions' for collaborative research and innovation in graduate and undergraduate education, across engineering and the university as a whole."

Watercolor rendering of the new engineering building at Duke University

Credit: Michael McCann

A Transformative New Space

New Engineering Building at a Glance

  • 150,000 gross square feet (~88,000 net square feet), 5 occupied floors
  • Estimated cost — $115 million
  • 2 floors focused on active student learning, with classrooms, teaching and design laboratories, specialized educational centers focused on Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Energy, Engineering & Environment; a 200-seat auditorium; and a Learning Commons dedicated to nurturing teaching excellence and enhancing the student experience
  • 3 floors housing signature Research Neighborhoods focused on Health Innovation, Computing & Intelligent Systems, and Environmental Health – with 35 research lab modules, 50+ offices and over 170 graduate student workstations, increasing opportunities for partnerships with researchers across campus
  • Generous collaboration spaces, conference rooms and gathering spaces throughout
  • Strategically located at the nexus of Duke’s schools of engineering, medicine, and arts & sciences

“There has perhaps never been a moment in human history where it has been more important for us to marshal our understanding of technology to address our most critical challenges.  In Duke’s new building, engineering faculty will work side by side with students on problems like environmental toxins, cancer and cybersecurity, and bring technical expertise together with our basic sciences, medicine, humanities and social sciences in a way that is unlike any other university.”

—Vincent Price, President of Duke University

rendering of new building location

The new engineering building will be located off Research Drive at the nexus of Duke's Schools of Engineering, Medicine and Arts & Sciences.

Credit: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

The building, which is yet to be named, features three floors dedicated to interdisciplinary research "neighborhoods." Designed to promote collaboration, these spaces will intermingle faculty and students from different departments who work toward shared goals, including improving human health, advancing computing and intelligent systems, and paving the way toward a more sustainable future. "This new engineering building represents an important step toward our goal of sustained excellence in technology and science," said Provost Sally Kornbluth. "It will give faculty and students in the Pratt School an opportunity to work with each other in innovative ways, to test their ideas, and to solve difficult problems, in the best tradition of Duke Engineering."

The building will also expand engineering student programming space by nearly 50 percent, with two floors for active-learning teaching and design spaces; specialized educational centers focused on entrepreneurship and energy, engineering and environment; and a Learning Commons dedicated to nurturing teaching excellence and the student experience.

"The new building design promotes active student learning," said George A. Truskey, senior associate dean of engineering, who led a team of faculty in programming the space with input from students. "The design labs are very open and flexible, allowing student teams to meet for brainstorming and then build and test their project designs. The open classrooms also will enable more active learning approaches, allowing students to discuss problems together in groups and then switch to a more traditional lecture orientation to present their results to their classmates."

By providing ample space for all students to participate in experiential, team-based projects, the facility will support Duke Engineering's vision for inspiring students to become creative problem-solvers through an innovative new curriculum focused on design, data science, computational thinking, research and entrepreneurship, Bellamkonda said.

The building site is located on Research Drive near the Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine & Applied Sciences and next to Bostock Library

A School on the Rise

Duke Engineering’s Upward Trajectory

  • Graduate student enrollment has grown by nearly 30% in the past five years
  • Duke now has 118 tenure-track faculty members in engineering—up 15% in the past five years
  • Our faculty rank among the top 15 in their fields in scholarly productivity and #8 among top U.S. engineering schools in per-faculty research expenditures
  • External research funding has nearly doubled over the past decade to $76+ million in FY2018
  • Duke ranks #11 among the world’s most innovative universities, #18 for undergraduate engineering and #26 for graduate engineering—and has been among the fastest-rising schools in the nation


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Opportunities To Give

group of undergrad students in Duke gear