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When students lovingly refer to the lunchroom as “the dungeon,” it’s time for a new Cafeteria design. The existing space, the shell of which dated way back to 1899, was cramped and dark. Circulation was an issue and flooding from the adjacent courtyard was an ongoing problem.
The solution, as identified in the Long Range Master Plan created by DLA Architects, was to create a new Cafeteria design by renovating the existing and borrowing space from the courtyard in an addition that meets current and future demographic needs. It is now a multi-purpose space where classes and after school activities will be held.
Students are now drawn to the open expanse that is the cafeteria. A two-story wall of windows and strategically placed skylights draw daylight deep into the space. Supplementing the natural light are the energy-saving LEDs, including specialized decorative fixtures and can lights. The combination of various sized light fixtures suspended at different heights, the organic shapes cast in the terrazzo floors and mimicked in the acoustical clouds in the ceiling, and in the pattern of the windows themselves give a light, effervescent quality to the space, while still acknowledging the context of the historical landmark building. This buoyant atmosphere is echoed with the multi-colored pattern of the wall tiles in the serving areas.
With so many hard, easy to clean surfaces, cafeterias tend to be noisy spaces. To help lessen the noise, a variety of strategies were applied. The vaulted ceiling near the windows features a metal product that gives the natural look of wood; some of these panels are perforated to help control sound. Deeper into the space, the flat plane of the ceiling is broken with varied materials in different shapes and at different heights. Cafeteria noise can also disrupt nearby classrooms; care was taken to buffer the space from quieter rooms by strategically placing the entrances.
Flexibility was key for this showpiece space and today that means enhancing connectivity.
The finishes combined with the skylights and views to the courtyard bring the outdoors into the space. Students can also step outside with direct courtyard access. The courtyard features a lunch area that doubles as an outdoor classroom.