The 1964 Nicholls State University cafeteria was outdated and uninviting. The university wanted the dining and servery areas to be attractive, modern and meet the needs of today’s students. It sought an updated exterior entry plaza that complemented the university’s master plan and addressed accessibility concerns. The plaza has a covered entry and CAPACITY500COST PER SQ FT$185.00FEATURED IN2009 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYRenovation student dining.
Post-Katrina, Nicholls mandated a kitchen that could operate on limited utilities and backup power during a prolonged emergency. The design team addressed each of these issues, which were critical in the kitchen’s successful response when Nicholls was hit by Hurricane Gustav in 2008. The university lost power for one week, and staff provided food and ice to maintenance and police. They also sent 1,500 meals to community food-distribution centers.
The cafeteria’s previous design featured a large, open dining room with limited control at the entry. Now, when students enter the cafeteria, they are met with shape, form and color that softens but defines the different areas of the cafeteria. The ribbon-like entry hallway is seen as a decorative transition space that encases spacious booths on the dining room side. Interactive flatscreens have replaced bulletin boards and are used to post menus, hours of operation and campus events. The original low ceiling was removed, and floating "clouds" with acoustical ceiling tile for noise control were added. The exhibition-style servery enables students to see the food being prepared. The servery includes a pizza/pasta station, select entrees, themed cuisine, deli, grill, salad, beverages and bakery display, all of which are easy to find because of the "playful" signage that defines the areas. The serpentine, double-sided booths with blue accent lighting provide intimate dining areas that break up the large, open effect of many cafeteria dining rooms.