Environmental Graphics & Branding, Higher Education

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Willa S. Cather Dining Complex

The new 17th Street Dining Center for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln replaces an existing dining center on the UNL campus. The new center primarily serves students in adjacent residence halls and includes program space to support University Housing offices and functions, and become a primary social space for this area of the downtown UNL campus. The dining facility accommodates 500 students, and the new Housing Office space provides office and support space for 50 Housing staff members.

A large plaza on the southwest portion of the site supports social interaction at a variety of scales, including outdoor group seating, a terraced area providing elevated seating, and smaller spaces supporting small and informal gatherings.

The design of the dining center is centered on three main principles: to create an open interactive environment that maximizes the opportunities to make connections, foster friendships, and build community among a body of university students, faculty, and staff; to express the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s place as a premier, forward-looking institution, and to ensure that the new center provides a multitude of learning environments to support current and future students while also providing welcoming venues on campus for conference visitors.

The dining area maintains a strong market-style servery and dining concept, with different dining areas connected by clear visual connections to the server. Dining areas are tiered and located on the floor exterior to maximize exterior views.

To create a dynamic destination, a central commons was developed to maximize visibility between users and the desired services within the building, resulting in clear circulation paths and clear views from all entries towards the central commons. Flexible event rooms can be partitioned and used either individually or combined into one large central space. The pre-function space allows for open connection between events and the outdoor plaza and creates an opportunity for additional gallery space to be realized.

Photography by AJ Brown Imaging
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