Bolton Commons is the largest food services venue on the University of Georgia campus and serves as a campus hub, with 1,100 seats plus a convertible, 200-seat private event space. One of the design challenges was to create a building that complemented the grand neighboring campus building in scale while also being able to occupy its site without overwhelming it. The pedestrian bridges on the outside of the building link the Commons to the rest of the campus, enhancing overall campus connectivity and community and encouraging Bolton Commons’ function as a “see and be seen” gathering space.
The Commons features over a dozen serveries and food prep stations on two floors. These stations serve a variety of menu items, including comfort food, international cuisine, vegetarian, and allergen-free options, and feature exhibition cooking and small-batch production in order to promote freshness and quality food practices. In addition to the main dining hall, Bolton Commons features the 200-seat Hearth Room which provides a more formal and quiet atmosphere suitable for outside events, faculty dining, and alumni functions, and 4000sf of office and administrative space.
Bruner/Cott design was inspired by traditional southern Acadian architecture and features a simple materials palette of brick, local Elberton Georgia granite, custom Douglas Fir timbers and decking, cast stone, metal panels, and glass, complementing the existing campus architecture. A seventy-foot rotunda element provides a recognizable icon visible from Georgia Quad to the east, while the entrance facing Tanyard Creek allows for easy access from the west. On the interior, emphasis was placed on utilizing extremely durable materials and adaptable design elements that allow for future flexibility to change menus and equipment without requiring wholesale renovation. Wherever possible, the architects sought to use 100-year lifespan and low-maintenance materials and high efficiency systems for maximum sustainability.