When it comes to food, UMass Amherst is all about raising the bar. Already known for its nationally-recognized dining program, the goal for Hampshire Dining Commons was nothing short of creating the healthiest, most sustainable student dining experience in the country. Bergmeyer’s assignment: transform the existing mid-1960’s concrete dining hall into an inspiring venue where the food is the star.
The key was turning the center of the building’s 20,000-sf main level into a single, open kitchen ringed with flexible cooking stations. Dubbed “the egg”, this circular plan allows each menu station to feature a different cuisine, resulting in a guest experience akin to shopping in a continuous street market. This big move also served to spread the seating into smaller groups around the building’s glassy, pavilion-like perimeter giving every table a front-row seat for the food preparation.
Given the ambitious food quality agenda, it was just as important for Bergmeyer to help the facility’s operators understand where NOT to spend money. Leveraging the spartan beauty of the building’s structure, Hampshire’s simple palette of exposed concrete, raw steel, and reclaimed wood was driven as much by budget as by sustainability considerations. The aesthetic is contemporary New England, influenced by the aging agrarian structures dotting the surrounding landscape. The result is a dynamic, relaxed, destination experience where food truly takes center stage.