How the University of Illinois designed a new dining hall

tea bar

In January 2017, 10 representatives from the University of Illinois’ Housing, and Facilities and Services departments boarded a bus to Chicago. The group visited more than 20 dining concepts throughout the city over the course of two days. Their goal was to study everything about the eateries, from the flow of the space to the lighting, to inform the design for a new dining hall in the school's Illinois Street Residence Hall (ISR). 

“We’d walk into a space, we’d evaluate it, we’d get back on the bus and then immediately it was an information dump. Everyone was expected to have something to say,” says Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services.

Bakergroup, the university’s dining consultant for this project, and architecture firm Booth Hansen were present, taking detailed notes about what the group liked and didn’t like at each of the concepts. These observations would set the stage for the design of ISR's micro-restaurants, as well as its tea bar and convenience store.

Once they were back at the university, the group created concept boards that show what they liked from their visit. They then began to plan each concept’s design while keeping costs in mind.

“[Because] we are an auxiliary of the university, we do not receive any institutional or state funds,” says Alma Sealine, director of university housing, when discussing how the group formed its budget. “We had to make sure we were identifying a budget that we could afford …[while] taking into consideration the other renovation projects and new construction project that we had on the books in our long-range facility master plan.”

The group met to go through samples and different price points. Students were also brought in to look at the plans and give their feedback. The process took about two months.

“We had lots of conversations. We got to see a lot of pictures, touch a lot of finishes and see a lot of samples,” Sealine says. “We would price out all those samples and we would make a decision: ‘What’s more important—having this particular tile or having this particular floor?’”

Each of the 11 stations and micro-restaurants were designed to have their own separate look and feel. Click here for an inside look.

Photograph courtesy of the University of Illinois

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
healthcare foodservice coffee

From Smucker Away From Home.

Foodservice operators face a tall order when it comes to managing coffee service efficiently and profitably, not to mention meeting the standards of high quality and variety that consumers demand these days. According to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage report, consumers purchase an average of 3.8 beverages per week away from home; in terms of coffee, 37% of consumers say they are ordering it more now than they were two years ago.

That means there’s a lot of opportunity for foodservice establishments to attract consumers’ coffee dollars. In the...

Managing Your Business
kitchen staff

If noncommercial operators hope to pull job candidates away from restaurant jobs, here’s what they’ll need to offer, according to a flurry of new research.

The data underscore that pay, once third or fourth on most lists of the reasons foodservice employees leave a position, is becoming a far more important consideration for taking or keeping a job. Financial security is particularly important for members of so-called Gen Z, or what’s being defined as young people age 21 and under, according to the study just released by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (...

Ideas and Innovation
tailgate

Not all the rivalry during a weekend of college football is limited to action on the field. Restaurants are intensifying their competition with college and university foodservices for the game day spreads that fans will set up in stadium parking lots and countless living rooms this season.

Operators ranging from Taco Bell to small independents are adding platters and meal packages this fall to capture more of the big-dollar spending by sports fanatics for tailgate parties and “couch gating,” the at-home version. They’re awakening to the opportunity many C&U foodservice...

Sponsored Content
local produce

From The Henry P. Kendall Foundation.

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation has spent more than 60 years investing in people and projects designed to make the world healthier and more sustainable. For the past six of those years, the Foundation has focused on the health and vitality of the food system within its native New England, with an eye toward increasing the amount of locally sourced food that is consumed in the region.

To do that, the Kendall Foundation looked to large-scale institutions, such as colleges and universities.

“By leveraging the buying power of the...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code