Lesley University Washburn Dining Hall

Cambridge, MA

Inspiring use of common materials in unexpected ways. Seems to fit the brief and do exactly what it set out to do.

– 2020 American School & University Jury Comment


Lesley University


Renovation of 6,000 SF, 142-seat dining hall to expand servery, update all finishes, equipment and furniture, reconfigure 500 SF meeting room and create new accessible bathrooms and conference room


A recent acquisition by Lesley University, this space needed to be completely updated and turned over for student use in 20 weeks from start of design to opening day.


Originally part of the Episcopal Divnity School, Washburn Dining Hall was outdated and not in keeping with Lesley University’s plans for their Brattle campus.

Built in 1961, the hall had cafeteria style dining seating for 142 with lounge space and an auditorium in the basement. The goal was to expand the servery to create a made-to-order display kitchen experience and expanding the dining offerings substantially. The design trims the total seat count to 127 at the same time adding a range of seating options.

The servery’s new cooking hood required the addition of a mechanical unit on the roof of the building, triggering a Cambridge Historic Commission review and subsequent approval. Fresh colors in easily maintained, budget-friendly materials with new furniture, from high tops to group tables and lounging options, create a range of places to catch a bite and socialize.

Beginning with the first team meeting in early May, design and construction documents were fast tracked to facilitate pricing and ordering of materials by the contractor. All construction will be completed in 12 weeks, in time for opening on August 30.