The House We ALL Built

Displays Throughout Environment Hall Recognize the Many Donors Who Have Made Environment Hall, and What’s Happening Inside, Possible

LESS THAN A DECADE AGO, a designated home for Duke University’s environmental programs was just a dream. But with the support of alumni, friends, faculty, staff, students and corporate and foundation partners, the Nicholas School of the Environment is now thriving in Environment Hall: the hub of all environmental activities on campus and proof of Duke’s commitment to leadership in forging a sustainable future through education, research and practice.

Environment Hall was recently designated as a LEED Platinum facility by the U.S. Green Building Council.

To recognize the many partners who have made Environment Hall—and the learning and discovery taking place here—possible, the Nicholas School has installed several displays throughout the building.

“Environment Hall would not be complete without acknowledging everyone who had a hand,” says Kevin McCarthy, associate dean for development & alumni relations. “Both the building and the school itself have been built through strong relationships with those who share our desire for a sustainable future and our belief that the Nicholas community can lead in creating that future. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, this is an ideal time to recognize the relationships that have gotten us this far, and that will lift us as we forge ahead together.”

Just inside the main entrance to Environment Hall, visitors will find a donor wall recognizing all of the contributors to the building campaign, as well as a list of the past year’s donors of $2,500 or more to the Nicholas School Annual Fund, with special recognition for those who give at the Blue Sky and Vanguard leadership levels.

The display also lists the school’s current Board of Visitors and Alumni Council—our most engaged volunteer leaders. A rotating portfolio of photographs, student artwork and other visuals highlights some of the activities made possible by donor support.

Close by, near the entrance to the Wegner Art Gallery, is a new piece of art commissioned to celebrate sustainer-level donors who contributed $250 to $999 to the building campaign through June 2015. The piece incorporates the actual signatures of these donors, to symbolize the personal hand that so many have had in creating this magnificent living and learning laboratory.

Designer Nancy Frame conceived the donor wall and signature panel. “The Nicholas School asked us to design a display system that supports the school’s mission, recognizes the generosity of donors and raises awareness of the importance of philanthropy,” she says.

“We were inspired by the beauty in nature and the important role that the Nicholas School has in educating the next generation of global environmental leaders. The larger background images create context and natural beauty, while the smaller images taken by students demonstrate their passion for and commitment to the natural world.”

Adjacent to these donor recognition displays is the relocated Christensen Reading Room, which has moved from Hug Commons to this bright new space. Named to honor the school’s founding dean, Norm Christensen, the reading room is now home to the original signs for the School of Forestry and the School of the Environment, linking past, present and future in one of the school’s central spaces.

Just downstairs, in the first-floor Field Auditorium, partner-level donors of $1,000 or more to the building campaign are also recognized on a plaque in this state-of-the-art learning space. In addition, dedication plaques both inside and outside the building recognize larger leadership gifts, often made in honor or memory of family, friends or mentors.

Although the building campaign has officially ended, there are still many opportunities to advance the Nicholas School’s mission through significant naming gifts starting at $100,000, all the way up to $20 million to name and dedicate Environment Hall.

Laura Ertel is a freelance writer in Durham, N.C.