The Doris Duke Center for the Sarah P. Gardens
Duke University | Durham, NC
Gateway to a Landmark Botanical Garden
The Doris Duke Center is a visitor center and horticultural educational facility at Duke University, part of the renowned Sarah P. Duke Gardens. Established in 1932, the Sarah Duke Gardens is dedicated to promoting knowledge of the connections between people and plants. The collections cover 55 acres and include formal gardens, wooded areas, terraces, and an amphitheater that support programming for the local community and visitors from around the world. We worked in partnership with Nelson-Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects to design a thoughtful interplay between a series of buildings and landscapes that provide a beautiful transition from the Center’s entrance into the realm of the gardens.
The Center sits gently in the landscape. The generous use of glass in the structure merges the interior spaces of the building with the terraces and gardens beyond. The multi-purpose facility is designed to accommodate a variety of educational and social gatherings. Reception and orientation areas and a large events hall are regularly used for a variety of lectures and presentations. Generously sized doors from the events hall lead to pergola-covered terraces that provide overflow space for larger events when the weather permits. The hall is constructed of a hewn timber frame with an exposed tongue and grooved wood ceiling and the building’s exterior is clad in natural cedar siding and stucco. The Center also includes two classrooms to accommodate educational workshops for children and adults, a horticultural library, a gift shop and staff offices.
MEP Engineer: Bruce E. Brooks & Associates; Civil Engineer: McFarland Johnson; Landscape Architect: Nelson Byrd Wolz
The Center’s siting, massing and expansive glass materials blur the boundaries between the building and 55 acres of world class botanical gardens.