Virginia Commonwealth University, Shafer Court Dining Center

Richmond, Virginia

Committed to energizing student services within its core campus, this urban university chose a site along its main pedestrian mall as the location for a new student dining facility. Programmatic requirements included:

•“Board-plan” dining for 850, providing diverse and changeable food-service venues for an “all-you-care-to-eat” program.

•Retail food-service ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMRicca Newmark DesignCOST PER SQ FT$236.93CITATIONGold CitationFEATURED IN2005 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCafeterias/Food-Service Areas with cafe and lounge seating for 300, including covered outdoor dining plus a private dining room for 50.

•Kitchen and offices supporting the facility, plus a campus catering program.

•An energetic interior underscoring the quality of the food-service program and enticing students to return multiple times daily.

The building is organized around a large, circular lobby called the “drum,” which collects patrons from two directions. This focal point facilitates movement and acts as a transition between the exterior and dining rooms. Its simple material palette, brick and stone, is formal, strong and quiet.

Cafe dining/lounge areas on the first floor, and dining areas on the second floor, feature more industrial finishes. Exterior walls use a combination of ground-face and glazed masonry units. Maple and cherry wood paneling and ceilings create seating “islands.” Circular, free-form flooring patterns define circulation. Furniture emphasizes the refined, modern aesthetic of the building, intentionally stepped back so as not to distract from the food and food-service venues. Venues feature colorful glass-tiled walls, custom-designed hood enclosures, patterned wood counters with stone tops and colorful accent lighting.

Eleven works of art, created for a student and faculty competition, are installed in the facility. Multiple sources of architectural and decorative lighting allow Shafer to change moods.

Since opening, board-plan dollar sales are up 19 percent over the same period from the previous year, and total contract sales increased by 32 percent. Also, faculty and staff requested a meal plan of their own.

"Elegant and artistic. Sensitive to student needs."--2005 jury