Duke's Architecture


Duke became a named university in the twentieth century. Trinity College became Duke University in 1924, and by 1932 a new campus was constructed, with the 210-foot-high Duke Chapel at its center. Executive Vice President , Tallman Trask III, recently wrote, “ Duke in fact became a great university in part because it looked like one from the start.”  Two campuses emerged - one the more urban-like place, in a Georgian red brick; the other “from the forest” designed with local stone and carved limestone details in the popular Collegiate Gothic style.   


Horace Trumbauer, a Philadelphia architect, along with his chief designer, Julian F. Abele, and the Olmstead Brothers as landscape architects, designed both projects. By 1932, more than twenty buildings at a cost of 20 million dollars were in place in Durham. It was the single largest depression era project in the United States. Aldous Huxley wrote in 1937, shortly after the university was built, “These buildings are genuinely beautiful …the most successful essay in neo-Gothic that I know.”  Today Duke’s Georgian East Campus and neo-Gothic West Campus serve as the core to a 2000 acre research, residential, academic, and health care university with over 250 buildings.

The interest in the quality and aesthetic appeal for Duke’s architecture has also found an audience from those who enjoy architectural history. More detailed information can be found at the Duke University archives, with maps and building descriptions available with Duke’s interactive campus map.