Before the foodservice facility was built, the university's foodservice management provider, Bon Appétit Management Company, operated out of temporary trailers for food preparation and dishwashing functions. "Growth in our student population, a need to build community, storage limitations and difficulty maintaining sanitary conditions all contributed to the decision to provide the students with an all new state-of-the-art student dining facility," De Young explains.
To develop such a facility, WJU brought together a project team that included De Young, The Taylor Group Architects, Webb Design (foodservice and interior design consultants) and Bon Appétit. The collaborative effort produced an aesthetically striking and functional 20,000-square-foot dining space. "The original palette had an industrialized feel because it was a warehouse," De Young says. "Frank Gehry received design awards for the original facility, and we wanted to keep as much of the spirit of the original architecture as we could."
"In order to keep the industrial character of the exterior architecture, careful consideration was given to the color and materials chosen," says Linda Midden, director of interior design at Webb Design. "The design is authentic in nature, creating an environment that is warm, rich, colorful and inviting. The interior and exterior space had to have a cohesive style while incorporating essentials the university needed — flexibility to grow as the campus grows, various food platforms, late-night retail for students living on campus and commuting students to use when the main servery was closed and future ability to offer catering services."
Mike Browne, senior project manager at Webb Design, explains, "The facility was designed to meet the flow requirements for food processing from deliveries of bulk food to the production kitchen for bulk preparation and eventual distribution to exposition food platforms for final finishing and placement of completed meal items on counters for self-service pickup by customers." In addition, the use of exhibition food platforms enabled the production kitchen to be smaller in size as well as have less cooking equipment.
"Since the warehouse was already equipped with loading docks and large truck access, it was an obvious choice to design the start of the food delivery process from the dock on one side and customer entry/reception on the opposite side of the building," says Browne. "A generous indoor dock equipped with landing and cart wash-down areas leads directly into the rear of the production kitchen, storage and employee areas."
Staff pick up food that arrives at the two-door loading dock and distribute it to two main walk-in coolers, a walk-in freezer and dry storage. "The 4,200-square-foot production kitchen has ample dry and refrigerated storage to support the food production capabilities for the campus," Browne says.