Duke Kunshan University has broken ground on the second phase of its green, sustainable campus expansion, marking another milestone in the China-U.S. joint-venture university’s rapid development.
The project will more than double the size of the existing campus and will feature state-of-the-art spaces for living and learning including a library, sports complex and residence halls for graduate and undergraduate students.
Work was officially launched at a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 16 attended by university leaders, faculty and students, as well as VIPs including Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for government relations and public affairs at Duke University; Fei Li, vice president of Wuhan University; Chengbin Wang, deputy head of Jiangsu province’s Department of Education; Chunyun Lu, vice mayor of Suzhou; and Xiaogang Du, party secretary of Kunshan.
Covering almost 47 acres, including 713,300 square feet of green space, the project is scheduled for completion around the end of 2021.
As with phase one, sustainable development lies at the heart of the expansion, which has been designed by the Atlanta and Shanghai offices of global architectural firm Perkins & Will.
“Duke Kunshan aims to become a world-leading model of sustainable development. All of the buildings in phase two are consistent with sustainable and flexible design principles,” said Ning Bai, general manager of the phase two project at Duke Kunshan.
“Once complete, the new buildings are expected to receive LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council – one will get platinum, four gold and the others silver – and should receive China’s own green building label.”
In addition to phase two, whose green coverage ratio will be 35 percent, work has also officially started on Duke Kunshan Gardens, which will cover 71.3 acres and include a picturesque lake and wetland.
Designed to capture the spirit of a traditional Kunshan water town, the garden is expected to open in June 2021 and provide students, faculty and other visitors with a sense of serenity and inspiration.
“We are building something unique at Duke Kunshan,” said Chancellor Youmei Feng. “As with the first phase of construction, these new buildings will be aesthetically impressive and distinctive, but more importantly they will serve our mission to create dynamic spaces for students, faculty and staff to interact and engage.”
Once phase two is complete, the university will have 26 new classrooms and 18 to 22 new laboratories. The campus will also be able to accommodate 2,000 undergraduate students, 500 to 800 graduate students and 800 employees.
As well as improving the university’s advanced library and sports facilities, the project will include the WHU-Duke Research Institute, a visitor center and a community center. It will also feature an underground garage with room for 790 cars, with 79 e-car charging points and 12 spaces for disabled drivers.
All major buildings will be just a three-minute walk from each other, with the campus designed specifically to encourage planned and chance interactions among the Duke Kunshan community.
The groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 16 came just one day after Duke Kunshan welcomed its second class of undergraduate students with a convocation ceremony at the Poly Grand Theatre, part of the Kunshan Arts and Culture Center.
“The onset of phase two construction is testimony to the fact that Duke Kunshan has achieved full liftoff and is well on its way to becoming a high-caliber global university,” said Denis Simon, the university’s executive vice chancellor. “The new buildings represent the latest thinking in design for teaching and learning in the 21st century.
“Students and faculty members will find the infrastructure to be not only extremely cutting-edge in terms of technology but also highly user-friendly in terms of providing great spaces for team exercises, collaborative learning and interactive dialogue about critical issues,” Simon added.
The university’s campus, which is planned to eventually cover 200 acres, lies within the Yangcheng Lake Science and Technology Education Park, a rapidly developing area in northwest Kunshan, Jiangsu province.
Construction of phase one began in late 2010 and was completed this month with the official handover of the Innovation Building. Design firm Gensler included multiple water features in the plans to reflect the natural and cultural context of the Suzhou region.