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February 19, 2007

Purdue's Windsor Dining Court wins national design award

Windsor Dining Court
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Purdue University's Windsor Dining Court has won an outstanding design award from American School and University Magazine.

The magazine named the dining court a winner among facilities at postsecondary institutions. An article about the award appears in the magazine's November 2006 issue.

Lafayette's Scholer Corp. was in charge of the dining court's architectural, mechanical and engineering design.

"Although the existing building had several spatial limitations, we wanted to make it as open as possible," said Steve Goffinet, principal architect with Scholer. "The new design is noteworthy because dining and food preparation occur within the same place, which tends to create a more unique dining experience."

The magazine praised the architects for transforming a relatively confined space into a relaxed, inviting and highly efficient dining atmosphere that would blend well with the traditional look and feel of existing campus dining facilities.

Ricca Newmark Design of Denver designed the food service portion and building's interior.

"The building is a total evolution from 'institutional' to 'restaurant' dining," said Tom Ricca, chairman of Ricca Newmark Design.

Sarah Johnson, director of dining services for University Residences, said students have reacted favorably to the new facility.

"It's a smaller space than some of our other dining facilities, so it feels more intimate," Johnson said. "Diners find it easy to navigate the food service areas and whatever ambiance or seating options they prefer, including tables, stools or booths."

The marketplace-style dining facility features English accents, including slate and clay tile flooring and brick and oak paneled walls with limestone and iron architectural features that blend with the existing motif in the attached Windsor Halls. Historic lighting fixtures from the previous dining hall have been incorporated into the new design. Natural lighting pours in through large windows. The magazine praised features, such as existing fireplaces, for creating the look and intimate feel of a high-end restaurant.

Flooring and ceiling design defines seating arrangements. Dining areas are broken up into smaller areas, each with a change of furniture style, booth design and accent light fixtures. Private dining rooms can seat small groups by reservation daily for breakfast or at any mealtime on the weekend.

Windsor Dining Court is located just west of the center of campus on North Intramural Drive and is open to the public. The 38,000-square-foot residence hall food service dining court can seat 500 diners. Eight food stations allow diners to choose from international flavors such as Indian, African, Caribbean or Italian, as well as vegetarian or American food. Fresh-baked goods and self-service waffles are available at every meal. A focal point is the Sizzling Salad Station featuring a rotating selection of freshly saut?ed meats served on a bed of greens.

The original Windsor dining hall closed for renovations in 2003. The upgraded dining facility reopened in August 2005. The $12 million project is part of a six-year, $48 million food service plan, funded solely through savings and cost-efficiency measures.

Purdue University Residences has based the Windsor Dining Court design on the same concepts as those that contributed to the success of previously opened dining courts at Earhart and Hillenbrand halls and the freestanding Ford Dining Court. Wiley Dining Court, another freestanding design, is slated to open in 2008.

"These dining services are so popular, it's not uncommon for Windsor, Earhart, Hillenbrand and Ford to serve 17,000 people in a day," Johnson said. "Students come from all over campus to these new courts in appreciation of what we have to offer."

Myron Melekson, a sophomore from Chicago, enjoys the circular design of the facility that aids the flow of people.

"I come here often because it is not too noisy. It's a good place to meet friends." Melekson said. "It's very clean and offers lots of variety for people with different tastes. The desserts are particularly good."

Writer: Jim Schenke, (765) 494-6262,

Sources: Sarah Johnson, (765) 494-1000,

Tom Ricca,

Myron Melekson,

Steve Goffinet, (765) 474-1478,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Windsor Dining Court has gained national recognition for an innovative design that creates a restaurantlike atmosphere that combines food preparation and dining in the same space. (Purdue Housing and Food Services photo)

A publication-quality photo is available at

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