Spectrum Design Architecs | Engineers

Guilford College Dining Hall

Greensboro, North Carolina

Since 2006, Guilford College has entrusted its campus-wide renovations and creative repositioning to become an environmentally friendly institution to Spectrum Design - a leader in sustainable design and engineering for higher education projects. Bringing a 175-year-old campus into the 21st century is not an easy task and Spectrum has worked closely with the College, modernizing one building at a time while maintaining a balance between the contemporary and the traditional.

Most colleges will agree that one of the most important facilities on any campus is the dining hall which serves as a central gathering place for the entire student body, faculty and staff, and is also a key recruitment tool. Guilford College's dining hall was uninviting with low ceilings, minimal lighting, outdated furniture and inefficient use of space. The administration recognized a need to upgrade the space to be a brighter, warmer and more inviting space for students to gather.

Spectrum Design and Guilford College collaborated closely with each other, the food service vender, and the student population to design a new space that would function and appeal to everyone. Spectrum gathered input from everyone from kitchen to janitorial staff and from administration to admissions. Student input was solicited through multiple "town-hall" meetings to understand how students used the space, what they wanted to see in a new design and even how they preferred to sit together and what type of chairs they wanted.

While one design trend for higher education dining facilities is a move toward smaller seating arrangements, Guilford students reported they preferred the more traditional cafeteria-style seating as a reflection of the school's community spirit. Their input led Spectrum to design a space that accommodated multiple seating arrangements, including keeping the traditional long-tables, while adding four-tops, large rounds, and bar seating.

Spectrum exposed the ceiling structure to maximize the volume of the dining room and added two large skylights to introduce a warm, diffused natural daylight into the once dark interior space. The renovation also included enlarging the existing upper-area dining area to accommodate additional seating.

To minimize congestion between the service and dining areas, the dishwashing and tray drop-off area was relocated so diners no longer had to return through the service line to drop off their dishes. A new, state-of-the-art dishwasher and conveyor were also added to save power and water while improving operational efficiency.