University of Rhode Island, Hope Commons Dining Hall

Kingston, Rhode Island

  • FIRM

    Vision 3 Architects


    University of Rhode Island

  • AREA

    42,000 sq.ft.





Program requirements included an all-you-care-to-eat, 610-seat, main dining room; a 108-seat late-night cafe; convenience store; receiving dock; and dry and refrigerated storage.

The university wanted to provide a late-night destination for students, grab-and-go convenience for the surrounding suite-style housing, and a facility that earned ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$428.00FEATURED IN2008 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCafeterias/Food-Service Areas certification.

Understanding that residential life is an integral part of the student experience, and that dining choices have become more sophisticated in recent years, the architect sought to create a healthy dining experience that also would encourage social interaction among students.

In the design for Mainfare, the main dining hall, food is prepared in full view at four strategically placed food venues, each with its own identity and theme. Mainfare has an open market/restaurant feel, with fine detailing and a variety of seating options. Remote stations disperse activity throughout the facility, reducing wait time for food.

Adjacent to Mainfare is Rhody Market, a late night cafe. Rhody Market includes soft seating; a unique, four-sided fireplace; flatscreen TVs; and Wi-Fi. It has become the venue for university entertainment, including music, comedy and “open mike” nights.

At ground level, Rhody Mini Mart offers convenience items, snacks and grab-and-go foods.

Currently under review by the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED silver certification, the design of Hope Commons incorporates energy-efficient lighting; a reflective roof membrane to reduce the heat-island effect; elimination of parking areas to encourage pedestrian access by staff and students; and efficient heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. The building is constructed from 76 percent regionally manufactured materials and products.

Situated in the heart of the campus residential district, the $18 million, 42,000-square-foot Hope Commons is the first new dining hall on campus in 45 years and serves 2,100 meals per day.

Hope Commons is steel-framed with masonry veneer. Rigid insulation in the veneer improves the thermal efficiency of the wall system. Building materials and products specified totaled 30 percent recycled content. Computers monitor the building’s mechanical systems from remote locations manned by the university’s facilities staff.

Since opening in September 2007, Hope Commons has become the “place to be” on campus, not only for meals, but also for socializing during other hours.