Community Center at Mount Holyoke College

Community Center at Mount Holyoke College

Designer
Bergmeyer
Location
South Hadley, MA, USA | View Map
Category
Community Centres

Universities
Stories By
Bergmeyer

Ceilume
Chun Lai Photography
Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrandProduct Name
Supplied Ceiling Panels in Dining CommonsCeilume
Cambridge Ceiling Tile, Oxford Ceiling Panel, Stratford Ceiling Panel, Madison Ceiling Panel
FurnitureArper SPA
Pix, Lounge Global
CeilingArmstrong Ceilings US
Ceilume
Ceramic Tile Creative Materials Corporation
Crossville
Door HardwareIves Door Accessory Hardware
Stanley
ChairWest Coast Industries
Cafeteria Grand Rapids Chair

Product Spec Sheet
Supplied Ceiling Panels in Dining Commons
Cambridge Ceiling Tile, Oxford Ceiling Panel, Stratford Ceiling Panel, Madison Ceiling Panel by Ceilume
Furniture
Pix, Lounge Global by Arper SPA
Ceiling
Ceramic Tile
Door Hardware
Chair
Cafeteria Grand Rapids Chair by West Coast Industries

Community Center at Mount Holyoke College

Bergmeyer as Designers

Our collaboration with Mount Holyoke began as a feasibility study of centralizing their five residential dining facilities. While the concept proved both financially and physically feasible, the cultural and trustee approval feasibility proved more complicated.

Following several months of research, workshops, and consensus-building, the project emerged as a reimagined community center that combines a variety of co-curricular, social, student services, and dining spaces in the center of campus.

The historic Blanchard Hall structure, formerly the campus gymnasium, is organized on three programmatic levels, connected by a sun-filled central atrium. The entry-level reinvents the original basketball court as a new “campus lobby” organized into a variety of informal meeting and social spaces for chance encounters, device charging, and visitor hospitality.

On the same level, a new 1000-seat anytime dining center addition marries the college’s “intimate dining rooms” tradition with state of the art, just-in-time foodservice operations. This new addition takes full advantage of the site’s views of Lower Lake and across the campus greens, as well as internal views of the fresh food preparation in the open kitchens.

Designed to LEED Silver standards, the project features energy-efficient systems, including waste stream management and solar hot water generation highly. Combined with the variety of vibrant and ever-changing co-curricular and social activities, the new Community Center serves a critical role in strengthening the sense of community and facilitating the creative collisions which are vital to new students. Through the team’s efforts, the centralization of dining services was successfully repositioned as a positive and welcomed change for the college’s bright future while respecting Mount Holyoke’s rich past.

An Intimate Feeling Includes the Ceiling

Ceilume as Supplied Ceiling Panels in Dining Commons

A student cafeteria doesn’t have to feel like a student cafeteria. The new Student Dining Commons at Mount Holyoke College – a 1000-seat, state of the art, any­time din­ing cen­ter created by Boston design firm Bergmeyer – is intended to offer an inviting, personal experience that evokes some of the school’s long ​tradition of inti­mate din­ing rooms. An important element of that effect is an unusual ceiling. It features thermoformed ceiling panels from Ceilume – which meet the strict standards for food service areas and provide visual elegance to elevate the design – combined with conventional flat mineral fiber panels that are used over seating areas around the periphery. The transition between these two types of ceilings is an intermingled effect that helps lead diners from the food service to seating, while also helping to break the large volume of the space into more intimate areas.

The newly constructed Dining Commons is joined to a 19th century gym building that underwent major renovation to create a student center. Bringing all the students to eat together in one central location represented a significant cultural shift for the college, which previously had a dining hall in each dorm. The college studied the idea for 10 years before proceeding.

“We wanted it to be a place where students felt comfortable,” recalls Krista Easterly, Interior Designer at Bergmeyer. The designers sought a look reminiscent of residential settings rather than commercial design. They wanted a ceiling with a sense of style, a coffered look.

Thermoformed Ceilume ceiling panels, made from lightweight rigid vinyl and available in a wide variety of 3-dimensional patterns, offered a solution that met the codes for food service areas, and were more affordable than plaster, wood or mineral fiber coffers. The Ceilume panels drop into standard 2x2-feet or 2x4-feet ceiling suspension grids, and allow access to the above ceiling cavity.

Bergmeyer’s original design called for two patterns of thermoformed panels: Madison, with coffers about 2-½-inch deep, and Cambridge, a similar coffered look created by ½-inch deep molding. Later, the design was expanded to three styles, adding Oxford, which is an inversion of Cambridge. Instead of projecting downward, the molding is recessed into the ceiling, creating a shape that looks very similar, yet shifts how shadows and highlights play across the ceiling and enlivens the overall effect. Exact placements were decided during construction, since the panels are easy to move and not subject to damage.

 “We liked the different options of patterns and profiles with Ceilume,” recalls Easterly. “One had a deep coffer; the others were almost flat but had that little molding around them. We were able to mix and match. It was a nice option to get that look, something that had depth to it.”

The different types of ceiling panels are blended together through a “gradated” transition. “We tried to make it look organic.” They concentrated the Ceilume panels over the food service areas, the salad bar and the deli. “That ceiling needs to be cleanable” explains Easterly, “so it was good that it is a washable panel.” The thermoformed panels extend over the first adjacent zones of seating and then disperse outwards, giving way to the flat panels.

Achieving acoustical control was no problem, either, despite the hard-polished concrete floors and floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The Ceilume panels, which naturally dampen noise by leveraging the viscous mass of air in the above-ceiling cavity, were installed with Soniguard™ acoustic blankets on the upper surface for additional control. “The noise level is pretty good,” Easterly reports.

The Dining Commons was designed to meet LEED Silver standards. Panels are Greenguard Gold certified and can contribute to LEED credits for acoustics, low emitting materials, and indoor air quality. Both the Ceilume panels and Soniguard acoustic blankets are free of frangible mineral fibers that are known to contribute to respiratory problems.

The Mount Holyoke College Dining Commons received an award for Outstanding Design from American School & University magazine and has apparently achieved its goal of creating an inviting place for students. “It’s been wildly successful,” Easterly relates. “They’re selling more meals than they ever imagined. Everybody likes what we created there, so I think it was a success.”

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