How one school turned a cafeteria into a social hub

Renovating and expanding a cafeteria with common areas and flexible spaces
By: | October 22, 2019
The dining areas feature large, round tables and chairs; elevated benches with accompanying high tables and stools along the divider walls, which separate the dining rooms from the serving areas; and benches along the glazed wall of windows overlooking the hallway and the yard. Natural color wood trims on the benches visually warm up the space, while the black suspended-tile Calla ceilings by Armstrong provide a background for dramatic, oversized, gray and blue circular cloud ceilings of Metalworks Mesh, also by Armstrong, and white pendant lighting fixtures. Photo by Ola Wilk/Wilk Marketing Communications.

Herricks Union Free School District recently completed renovating and expanding the high school cafeteria into a 7,000-square-foot building that includes a café and commons.

Challenge: District leaders wanted the school cafeteria to not only serve over 500 meals per day but to function as a social hub with common areas and flexible spaces for hosting various events. A new kitchen and serving line was also required, but since workers would have to take the existing systems offline, the job had to be completed during holidays and vacation periods so as not to disturb the cafeteria’s services.

Solution: A new 5,050-square-foot café and commons area features glazed folding walls that can split the space into multiple configurations, including two large dining areas and a centrally located 300-square-foot dining room that the district describes as a “glazed box.” The folding walls can create a total of five 13-feet-wide openings for a total of 65 linear feet.

When not in use as a food-service facility, the entire area serves as a social hub and meeting spot. These spaces can also host presentations, announcements and performances.

A new 1,650-square-foot kitchen features new equipment and a serving line that sits adjacent to food preparation areas, office space, storage and support facilities.

Cost: $3.95 million

Completion: Late 2018

Project team: General contractor: Stalco Construction; architect and MEP engineer: BBS Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers; construction manager: Park East Construction; structural engineer: Reilly Tarantino Engineering.

For more information, please visit BBS Architects’ project page and Stalco Construction.