In 2009, Miami University was experiencing a decrease in enrollment due to an unimproved housing stock and significantly fewer amenities than many peer institutions. The existing dining facility’s size and configuration prohibited the necessary renovation and restoration. A new dining facility would allow the university to achieve the intended programming.
The old facility was well liked by students and staff for the interior experience of opening to the landscape with sweeping views and steel, stone, and wood materials. The new facility used similar materials, but with more modern methods. The feeling of bringing the outside in is continued and the views are directed to highlight the surrounding landscape and architecture. The low roof, with generous overhangs and green roof, help the facility nestle into the hillside so it does not dominate the landscape. The green roof, rain garden, and infrastructure link to a geothermal energy plant, supporting the university’s sustainability goals. The building’s parti is a series of gently stepped pavilions terracing down the natural landscape, each linked by taller, glass clerestory monitors which bring natural light deep into the building. Each pavilion houses a distinct food venue that flow together into one unified space. The geometry of the pavilions and monitors contrast against the undulating landscape and trees.
The design strategy incorporated an inside-outside concept featuring limestone site walls that emerged from the landscape and transitioned into walls of the building. The site walls are positioned as check dams descending perpendicular to a newly formed streambed that collects site and roof runoff during heavy rainfall. The building placement maximizes views to the outdoors, focusing on the existing stone arched bridge tying the building to the heritage of the site.
The facility is always lauded for being able to achieve so many things at once: being new and fresh while offering a similar quality of experience of the beloved facility it replaced.
CBT Architects; also Carol R. Johnson Associates; Champlin Architecture; Heapy Engineering