Another new addition to downtown Durham

By Clinton Centry
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

With new architecture and attractions, Durham’s skyline is changing. Some might say that it is beginning to look like a major urban city. Landmarks such as the DPAC, Fox 50, Durham Bulls Stadium, and Tobacco Row will soon be joined by the Durham Health and Human Services complex.

Phase One of the Durham Health and Human Services Complex is set to open next week. (Staff photo by Clinton Centry)

The structure sits at the corner of Main and Dillard streets in downtown Durham nestled into what used to be the parking of the old Durham Health Department. The contemporary u-shaped architectural design cost a little over $60 million.

The Health and Human Services complex will house the Public Health Department, Department of Social Services, and the county’s mental health facility, the Durham Center.  The building will be 277,590 square feet and will include meeting space and a wellness center.  The complex alone offers 50,000 square feet more than all three separate locations combined.

“In the long term this move will save the county financially in bringing together these major units of human services,” says Michael D. Page, chairman of the Durham Board of County Commissioners.

In the same sense that the abundance of space will be utilized in an effort to save city dollars, so the amenities of the complex also prove cost efficient.  The complex was designed to pursue Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and will feature waterless urinals, low-flow showerheads, aerators, and a high-efficiency irrigation system for landscaping.  Construction began in early 2009 and was projected to last well into 2013.  Phase one, however, will have its grand opening in a few weeks.

The former facility, which has been in operation for over thirty years, stands adjacent to the new complex.  It is set to be demolished once the new complex opens, so that construction of phase two of the project may begin.  As they stand now, the two buildings offer the perfect contrast to each other and uphold the meaning behind the phrase, “out with the old, in with the new”.

Carmacita Archila, Clinical Receptionist at the Early Intervention Clinic of the original health department, has been packing boxes for the move next door.

“The new building is set to open a week from this Monday,” says Archila. “They are going to tear down this building to begin phase two. It’s sad because there is a lot of history behind this building.”

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