As part of its goal to strengthen the connection between living and learning on campus, the University of Michigan looked at ways to improve university housing and dining facilities. It turned to SmithGroup to renovate and expand the community space and dining center that served the South Quad, a 1960s era residence hall that is home to 1,200 student athletes and honors-program students.
The new dining center improves and expands dining operations. It increases seating to 950, and features 10 or more themed food stations, each with its own brand identity and changing menu. Varied seating zones and lighting also create distinct dining ambiances. Together, these changes help keep the dining experience fresh for users that may return to the dining center multiple times in one day. The project also includes a new two-story Community Center, which incorporates open lounge spaces with game tables, televisions and soft seating to serve as comfortable informal gathering areas for residents. With the expansion of the South Quad dining center, a smaller dining hall in nearby West Quad will be repurposed for much-needed community and study spaces. To serve this larger student population, the South Quad entrance was also redesigned to provide more convenient access from the West Quad and Michigan Union.