Awarded through an invited competition, Thorne Hall Dining Commons provides expanded dining hall facilities accommodating over 650 students. Located south of the original quadrangle of this 200-year old private college, the site features an eclectic mix of Victorian houses and a 1960’s era three-building complex dominated by a 16-story residential tower. The siting and configuration of the Dining Hall Expansion integrate these disparate elements into a larger campus composition, creating a series of interlocking courtyards, and finally defining the threshold between “town and gown” at the college’s southern boundary.
The college needed to transform the existing Wentworth Dining Hall to relieve the overcrowding of the facility, to accommodate capacity from new residence halls, and to change the servery operation from a linear cafeteria-style to a modified scatter system. The existing hall stood isolated from its landscape, surrounded by a bermed moat wall and providing only narrow windows for views. A narrow enclosed link between the dining hall and the residential tower could not accommodate the queue of students at meal times.
The design solution converted the existing dining space to a double-height servery, backed by new kitchen preparation and dishwashing facilities. Carefully joined to the south of the existing building, a new double-height dining hall addresses the courtyard created by the addition and Chamberlain Hall, the new dormitory seen through a screen of majestic pines to the west. The scale, height and finishes of this main dining space recall traditional collegiate halls, while its dynamic geometry and computer-programmed, custom chandeliers reflect a modern sensibility. Embracing the large common volume is a one-story form featuring smaller private dining rooms and a row of nine banquette alcoves. Additional seating at café tables is provided in the north alcoves of the servery.
The Thorne Hall expansion more than doubles the serving and dining capacity of the original Wentworth Hall. Within the structural shell of the existing building, a new kitchen, servery and support spaces have been provided, and the remaining lounge renovated. The link between tower and dining hall was made more generous and wheelchair accessible.
The new dining hall references materials and volumetric proportions that unite the historic campus - defined by the original four-story dormitories, called “The Bricks” - with the 1960’s era residential complex, whose special water-struck bricks and coursing were duplicated for the new construction. Similarly, the distinctive lead-coated copper visors of Thorne Hall acknowledge the deeply cantilevered roofs of the existing modern structures.
2002 International Illumination Engineering Society Design Award
American School & University, 2003 College Planning & Management, 2003 Educational Spaces Vol. 3, 2003 Bowdoin, April 2001 Architecture Boston, 2000