More Space for Studios and Science


Duke trustees approved two building projects on campus at the annual fall meeting in October: one to expand the amount of teaching space for the department of Theater Studies in the Bryan Center, the other to renovate and add on to the Vivarium on Research Drive.

The $2-million Theater Studies project will add 5,400 square feet of new rehearsal, classroom, and shop space in the Bryan Center to support the three existing theaters: the 600-seat R.J. Reynolds Industries Theater, the 100-seat Emma Sheafer Laboratory Theater, and the 400-seat Griffith Film Theater. The Bryan Center opened in 1982.

" The Bryan Center has outstanding theaters, with the dressing rooms providing some very comfortable backstage accommodations. However, since there is no backstage rehearsal studio, our department and other theater groups must schedule extended rehearsal times in the theaters," says Richard Riddell, chair of Theater Studies. "By building a rehearsal studio, we will be able to move many of the rehearsals out of the theaters, which will open more time in the theaters for performances."

Additional teaching space includes a studio for classes in scene, costume, and lighting design; a seminar room for classes in dramatic literature, history, and theory; and a costume shop, to be shared with the professional staff of Theater Operations. The studios, says Riddell, "will also make Duke more attractive to the commercial producers who collaborate with us on the Theater Previews series."

The $1.8-million Vivarium project will expand neurobiology research facilities as part of a $26-million grant by the federal government's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The contract is part of DARPA's Brain-Machine Interfaces Program, which seeks to develop new technologies for augmenting human performance by accessing the brain in real time and integrating the information into such external devices as "neuroprosthetic" limbs for paralyzed people and "neurorobots" controlled by brain signals.

Besides development of brain-controlled prosthetic limbs, neurosurgeons could apply brain-mapping enabled by the new technologies to aid surgeons in distinguishing healthy brain tissue from tissue that is part of a tumor or is involved in epileptic seizures. Brain-machine interfaces also could be applied to enhance the abilities of normal humans. For example, neurally controlled robots could enable remote search-and-rescue operations or exploration of hazardous or inaccessible environments.

The Vivarium construction project includes the addition of 3,000 gross square feet for research labs and offices, the renovation of another 1,000 gross square feet of existing labs and data analysis space, and new construction and modifications to the building exterior.

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