The addition of two instructional kitchens serving restaurants that are open to the public, as well as three other instructional kitchens, an amphitheater and a six-room hotel increased student enrollment, partnerships with local businesses and industry, and services for community members.
The College of DuPage (COD) wanted to provide a world-class learning environment to students enrolled in the school's culinary and hospitality program and the DuPage community. "The program has been in existence since 1967, but we had outgrown our old facility, which no longer met today's educational needs," says Timothy Meyers, chef instructor at the College of DuPage. Meyers has been with the college for 16 years, including seven years as a full-time faculty member. "The college's president, Dr. Robert Breuder, sees the value in what we do, is passionate about the hospitality industry, and saw an opportunity to grow in response to growth in the hospitality sector."
The goals of the project included not only providing rolling enrollment to students to allow them an opportunity to complete their degrees in a timely manner but also providing students with state-of-the-art laboratories. To address these goals an entirely new physical facility was built, tripling the culinary space available, to 60,000 square feet from 20,000 square feet. In addition, COD added more faculty and incorporated state-of-the-art equipment and technology into the new facility.
The project increased student enrollment from 500 to 600, and increased partnerships with local businesses and industry by utilizing the space for training and team building and drawing in more community members who have industry connections, giving students opportunities to secure employment and internships.
Opened in August 2011, the project team united three disparate programs (culinary, hospitality and multimedia) — all with different spatial, functional, and equipment- and technology-related requirements — into one cohesive building. The new building includes five instructional kitchens. On the first floor is the Wheat Café, a 3,800-square-foot casual-dining kitchen with a 70-seat dining room and 400-square-foot culinary market, both open to the public and run by culinary students. Also on the first floor, Waterleaf is a 6,500-square-foot, for-profit fine-dining restaurant with a bar area, wine cooler and 130-seat dining room that is open to the public. Pulling double duty on the first floor is a 3,000-square-foot skills lab, which includes a connected walk-in refrigerator/freezer supporting Waterleaf and serving as a teaching area. Finally, a 2,000-square-foot multimedia studio rounds out the first floor.
The second floor boasts a pair of 2,600-square-foot bake/pastry labs, including one with an attached chocolate lab. The third floor houses a six-room hotel. The entire building is on track to become LEED certified.