Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), a faith-based liberal arts college, wanted to revive its existing Nicholson Dining Commons to reflect an updated modern dining experience that would meet the needs of the campus for the next twenty years. They sought to provide a comfortable and attractive place to eat, study, collaborate, and build long lasting relationships. With limited options on and off campus for dining and meeting, the importance of providing this space for their 3,500 students was amplified. Some of the university’s objectives were to increase their seat count, expand outdoor usage, and improve their oversized and underutilized lounge area.
Nicholson Commons was designed upon the belief that the best conversations happen over food, and although dining is the main use of the space, the Commons also needed to provide a sense of community. Located centrally in the heart of campus, the Commons serve as a gathering space for all students, where they can share knowledge and experiences in a casual, inviting atmosphere. The new design fosters interactions and socializing in a setting outside the classroom, while also providing spaces for private reflection.
The design process started with the food menu and the concept of nurturing the body. The servery was designed around creating healthy food options that would result in healthier minds and holistic health. The result of this process was a truly inspiring community space that provides healthier menu options, more access to views and natural light, comfortable and flexible seating, and a more opening environment.
The design team increased PLNU’s seat count by 8%, improved flow and circulation to draw students outside, and divided the lounge into two distinct areas—a conference center and smaller lounge area.
Salad bars are easily accessible from the dining area for convenience and to encourage healthy choices.
The removal of interior walls provides increased visibility to the servery and menu boards.
Beverage stations are stocked with water and juices instead of soda to encourage healthy drink options.
Movable furniture allows students to create seating arrangements to suit their needs.
Electrical outlets are provided at communal tables and banquette seating to encourage collaboration and use of technology.
New exterior doors invite students to enjoy al fresco dining.
The central ramp provides a clear, convenient route between the two levels.