Duke Sculpture Park Vision
2015-2016, Durham, North Carolina, United States
Duke University’s 8000-acre campus is renowned on many levels—its breathtaking neo-gothic architecture, the Olmsted brothers’ splendid landscape plan, and an edenic setting within the greater matrix of the Duke Forest. Campus life shifts between East and West, with the Olmsted Brothers’ designed Campus Drive as the meandering link between.
In 2015, West 8 was commissioned to envision a world-class sculpture park set amidst the 140 acres of beautiful creeks, valleys and forests that unites Duke’s two campuses and borders Campus Drive.
At the heart of the Sculpture Park lies the Nasher Museum of Art, a world-class art museum on the Hilltop. The design vision utilizes the building’s interior courtyard and five gallery layout to great effect—the five glazed corners of the atrium are transformed into gracious entrances into the museum for the first time. On the east side, a new, undulating slope is created in place of firelanes and parking. Whimsical pathways wind down the hillside or roll across the undulating slopes. This void carved out of the pine forest provides a new terrain for sculpture and a new vantage point on the museum. Outdated culverts below campus drive are replaced by timeless bridges and the three valleys are opened up to allow more functional stream ecology and the chance for students and visitors to traverse the landscape for the first time. From Sarah P. Duke Gardens to the west, stretching east along the Long Valley to the east, the Three Valleys Sculpture Park unites the heart of Duke’s Campus as an exciting new address for the arts within Duke’s Forest.
West 8’s completed vision plan defines the sculpture park’s extents, defining features such as an improved campus drive, Museum gardens and plazas, sculpture slope, valley walkways, and a logic for stitching the Park into the greater University Campus. This plan, “The Three Valleys: An Iconic Sculpture Park at Duke University” brings identity and conceptual vision to the hidden landscape that lies at the heart of Duke University’s Campus.
Phase One of the Sculpure Park opened in the fall of 2019.