Duke University


Conference Center And Student Housing Programming And Financial Analysis

Duke University retained B&D in 2013 to conduct a highest and best use analysis of its R. David Thomas Executive Conference Center. The university was seeking to divest its interest in the Center as it planned to build a state-of-the-art replacement facility in the near future, and was in the process of determining possible alternative uses for the building. We were tasked with identifying programmatic opportunities for the Center that would best suit the needs of Student Affairs, and to evaluate the financial return of the selected concepts to determine which would yield the highest return. Our scope of work entailed a tour and overnight stays at the Center to gain a detailed and first-hand understanding of its physical condition and potential opportunities. Stakeholder interviews were held with staff members from the Center, the Fuqua School of Business, Student Affairs, and Athletics. We also carefully reviewed the Center’s operating budget, housing data, and enrollment figures. Additionally, we developed a financial model with a 10-year pro forma for each adaptive reuse option. Our observations, research, and industry expertise revealed several opportunities for the Center’s reuse, given the facility’s location, general physical condition, large kitchen, meeting/study rooms, and housing configurations. Concepts included year-round graduate student housing. With a maximum anticipated housing capacity of 226 beds, a seating capacity of 340, and a full-service kitchen/dining area, the Center also could be used to service other university programs, including providing temporary housing for athletes during the late summer and early fall. The opportunities we presented were planned in alignment with the mission and financial capability of the university.