When it comes to food, UMass Amherst is all about raising the bar. Already known for its nationally-recognized dining program — ranked as the #1 campus dining program in 2016 by the Princeton Review — the goal for Hampshire Dining Commons was to create the healthiest, most sustainable student dining experience in the country and transform this 1960’s concrete dining hall into an exciting, inspiring venue where the food is the star.
Originally constructed in 1966, Hampshire Dining Commons had five different levels, and only one level was accessible. The existing servery, located on the 20,000 square foot main level, was enclosed on all four sides, blocking views into and through the kitchen and creating bottlenecks at busy meal times.
The solution: transform the existing, old-school servery into a single, open kitchen located at the center of the floor and remove all the interior partitions to create sight lines and bring more natural light into the space. The “egg,” as the open kitchen was dubbed, is ringed with 14 flexible cooking stations, allowing each menu station to feature a different cuisine.
Given the ambitious sustainable food agenda, it was just as important for Bergmeyer to help the facility’s operators understand where NOT to spend money on the building. Leveraging the spartan beauty of the building’s structure, Hampshire’s simple palette of exposed concrete, raw steel, and reclaimed wood was driven as much by budget as by sustainability considerations. Polishing the existing concrete floor slabs and celebrating the concrete shell freed up dollars that needed to be used on the required building upgrades – adding a vestibule to the lobby in order to meet current energy codes and installing a new elevator and lift to provide accessibility to all five levels.
The project’s sustainability goals also drove number of design and budget decisions. Although it seemed obvious that the single-pane glass windows should be replaced, early-stage energy modeling showed that the rate of air exhausted through the cooking hoods counteracted any benefit resulting from better insulated windows. Instead, the team redirected the money originally earmarked for new windows into higher-efficiency cooking hoods.
Hampshire Dining Commons has added a unique dining experience to a campus already known for its outstanding dining program. From one-of-a-kind stations serving authentic Asian street food, noodles and fresh-pressed tortillas to soda-free beverage stations that instead serve fresh-pressed juices and infused waters, Hampshire sets a new culinary standard in fresh, healthy campus dining.