August 2008: OUTSTANDING DESIGN AWARDED TO MONROE COLLEGE, CULINARY ARTS CENTER BY AMERICAN SCHOOL AND UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE

Outstanding Design, Vocational/Industrial Arts Area

Monroe College, Culinary Arts Center

New Rochelle, New York

This state-of-the-art culinary arts facility, with its daylighting, sparkling stainless steel equipment and accent colors in a palette taken from the hues of fresh fruits and vegetables, is situated in what had been a dreary auto-repair shop.

Its open-plan layout responds to the faculty’s unique vision of a flexible learning space with the concurrent uses typical in a large commercial kitchen. It includes a banquette battery, one pastry battery, and two a la carte kitchen areas organized around a service spine. Unlike a typical commercial kitchen, however, the space was designed for visual transparency in keeping with the college’s commitment to creating a culinary-education showcase.

The vestibule functions as an observation point for kitchen activities. Its angled portal into the pastry area follows the slope of the dramatic ceiling within, which conceals ductwork, but also enables natural light to permeate the space from the building ‘s high windows. An new glazed wall to the west, with sunshades for integral climate control, provides a view of student chefs from the adjoining courtyard – a major campus gathering space.

The project’s hands-on approach involved frequent team meetings on site from the start, and early selection and ordering of specialized equipment with long lead times. Close early cooperation among the college, architect, engineers, construction manager and food-service consultant enabled the team to meet the college’s ambitious goal of completing the facility in less than five months, just in time for the start of school in September.