Expansion and renovation of 11,000 SF dining facility
Northeastern University, as part of its strategy to transform the university’s image and to persuade students to stay on campus for social, dining and cultural activities, sought to integrate the Stetson West Dining Hall on the isolated north side of its grounds into the mainstream of campus life. Physically, the facility was sandwiched between two 60’s era dormitory buildings. The old dining hall commanded no presence on the main pedestrian thoroughfare. Entrance to the dining hall was through an adjacent dormitory, which posed circulation and handicap accessibility challenges.
The addition of a new double height glass atrium oriented toward the campus forms a welcoming, transparent link between the two existing dormitories. It provides a highly visible indoor/outdoor public space for dining, pulling in traffic from the surrounding campus. Single-story entryways flank the addition, seamlessly integrating the dining hall with the dormitories and enabling diners to bypass the dormitory en route to the dining destination.
The dormitory lobby and communal gathering space on the second floor mezzanine overlooks the atrium and is linked to the dining floor via a monumental curved stairway and elevator. The stairway is anchored by a new media wall containing 5 plasma screen televisions, an individual defining element that allows the space to double as both dining hall and social event center.
Further establishing the credentials of Stetson West as a hot destination is the creation of a professional quality exhibition kitchen. With seating for 50, and incoming and outgoing television broadcast feeds, the private room is equipped to host major events and television broadcasts such as the recent cookbook release of nationally renowned chef Michael Schlow.
To meet increased student demand, Stetson West now seats 425; more than triple its previous capacity. The commissary is nearly double its prior size, and the onsite retail operation “Take Outs” now caters more effectively to late night get-togethers and campus happenings.
The success of the renovation is evident on a nightly basis as the dining hall accommodates large crowds of students. The space is also utilized for its social functionality, as a host to events small and large alike. The benefit to Northeastern has not only manifested in student satisfaction, but also fiscally. Beyond those required to buy the college meal plan, an additional 2,000 students this year alone have chosen to register for meal plans.