Zoe Tishaev (T'24)

I am a senior studying Political Science with minors in Economics and Sociology. I entered Duke during the peak of COVID-19. With a freshman class split between two campuses we struggled to understand what it meant to live in a university community, much less what it meant to live in the city of Durham. Sealed-off common spaces and a shuttered dining hall meant I also took an interest in the correlation between architecture, physical space, and the formation of community. Thus, in approaching this exhibit, I took a special interest in the role of relationships: between different individuals, groups, spaces, and institutions, and how they shaped Duke. I encourage visitors to take a critical look at the interactions between the various elements of Duke and the incongruities and hypocrisies among them. Note where Duke students and faculty chose to leverage their influence, and when administration chose to listen. As the members of the Duke community begin to look ahead to our next century, as we ponder our future direction and where we shall lead next, we must not forget the wisdom of the past. In the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

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Duke Stone

Duke Stone

The physical material of buildings, whether or not we realize it, is instrumental in shaping the identity of a space. Duke’s continued usage of its characteristic “Duke Stone,” demonstrates the importance Duke places on some elements of visual consistency. Despite radically different styles and feelings—from the sleek, modern Hollows Quad to the ugly, bulky Gross Hall—Duke Stone ties the eclectic character of West Campus together.

Duke's 'Light Rail'

DOLRT Light Rail Train

The latest tense saga of town-gown relations here in Durham, the demise of the Durham-Orange Light Rail Train in 2019 continues to be remembered as an example of Duke’s influence on the Triangle. As a lover of transit, this fiasco and the news coverage surrounding it drew me to Duke and inspired my exploration of the complex relationship between Duke and Durham.

I <3 Shooters Necklace and 2 T-shirts

I <3 Shooters Shirt and Necklace

New bars, clubs, distilleries, festivities: the fabric of lively downtown Durham today is unrecognizable from the Durham of 20 years ago—except for Shooters II. The co-dependent relationship between Duke undergraduates and Shooters has not wavered even with the explosion of nightlife alternatives. Love it or hate it, this nightclub is a staple of the average Saturday night for many a Duke student, and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future.

The Chanticleer (2006) Lacrosse


Duke’s history of privilege, power imbalance, and tension with Durham is incomplete without the telling of the 2006 Lacrosse Case. A controversy that shook the university to its core, this dark chapter of Duke Athletics and town-gown relations continues to haunt the memory and reputation of Duke.

1949 Bus Boycott Photograph

Bus Boycott

As long as there have been school administrations, there has been student outrage. How students express that outrage, however, has varied through the decades. In 1949, a 5-cent increase in bus fare spurred a week-long boycott of Duke Power-owned campus shuttles. The protest made national headlines. In today’s diminished era of civic activity on campus, I wonder if a student-organized demonstration on the scale of “Shoe Leather Week” could ever take place today.

Main Quad for Arch
Chapel Architectural Drawings

Trumbauer Sketches

Architectural styles can help us understand the underlying values behind the creation of a place. Despite being almost entirely designed by Julian Abele, East and West campuses have dramatically different styles. Note the tall, spired, winding Gothic nature of West Campus—Duke’s “main campus”—compared with the flatter, simplistic, symmetrical Georgian style of the Woman’s College.