Karsh Alumni & Visitors Center

A versatile, flexible meeting and event facility at Duke University, Durham NC

Karsh Alumni & Visitors Center

Education & Research

The teams at Luke Hughes and Centerbrook Architects first worked together on the Keystone Academy library project in Beijing, for which Centerbrook were the design architects. When Mark Simon of Centerbrook and Luke and their respective teams met up again in late 2018, Mark and his team were in advanced schematic design for the new-build of the Karsh Alumni & Visitors Center at Duke University.



A Visitor, Alumni and Event Space

The Karsh Alumni & Visitors Center, based around an oak-gabled cloister that relates to much of the architecture of the Duke University campus,  was conceived as a multi-function facility, supporting meetings, events and visitor needs for multiple faculties.

With this in mind Mark Simon and Alan Paradis at Centerbrook designed the building to connect  prestige meeting, event and boardroom spaces to the south east with an existing stone administrative office to the south west. A two-storey administrative block sits to the north west.

Contemporary glulam arches, which reduce in scale as they progress towards the center of the site frame the main hall and event space, carry consistency through to the boardroom and the louvred glazing to the arched cloisters and courtyard beyond.

It is a bold, striking and functional building with a contemporary take on the traditional Duke campus aesthetic.

Versatility and Flexibility

Creating easily adaptable configurations in a busy commercial space is never easy, but by being involved early with the design process, the Luke Hughes team were able to prove that the multi-faceted interior layouts required were not only possible, but also achievable within the client’s budget.

The team at Luke Hughes proposed a series of versatile and flexible layouts for the event hall, boardroom and main meeting lobby and worked closely with Centerbrook and Duke Facilities, and later with Duke’s appointed vendor.



A new sliding sofa was designed for the Boardroom and lobby, extra-long custom Luke Hughes Athena foldable tables helped maximise capacity in the Boardroom, and fixed and foldable Athena 72 tables and Folio stackable timber chairs upholstered in Duke blue Andrew Muirhead sustainable leather complemented a set of customised Curvy high-density stacking chairs.

After nearly ten months in the making, the project came together on budget and on time for the inauguration ceremony in the late summer of 2019.

Photographs courtesy of and copyright Peter Aaron/OTTO

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