Kent Denver's new dining hall is in a 210-acre campus that hosts a mix of environments including sports fields, native grasslands, lakes, wetlands and a variety of wildlife. The original 8,000 square foot structure was built in 1966 and with subsequent enrollment increases it had become inadequate for the required 750 meals per day the school serves. The new facility had to address this hindrance as well as reveal the cycle of food culture – catalyst for a more holistic dining and food education experience.
The completed building, the first of its kind to receive LEED Platinum Certification, includes an extensive renovation to the existing building and a 12,000 square foot addition. The new dining hall’s basic location was determined by the existing vehicular and pedestrian paths as well as the existing building’s location. The design team took advantage of the sites slope and designed the project’s west facade with undulating windows and large sliding glass doors that open onto an exterior seating plaza and provide expansive views towards the mountains. The dining hall overlooks the entire campus, its natural setting and the surrounding neighborhoods.
The immediate building’s landscape is primarily comprised of native species that vary from flowering near the building to grasses near the existing landscape. An orchard with a variety of fruit trees spans the range of native seed mixes. Two bee hives in the orchard facilitate cross-pollination. This will provide a supply of locally grown fruit which will be incorporated into meals served over the course of the school year. A meandering path leads to outdoor classroom areas where instructors will teach students about the connections between the building's systems and the natural environment, directly integrating the new facility into the curriculum. Similarly, a 16 square foot, interior ‘green’ wall is a featured aspect of the design with over 576 plants including herbs that will also be freshly harvested and utilized in cooking on a day to day basis.
The school also required that the new dining hall have the flexibility to accommodate multiple, simultaneous extracurricular functions. The private school allows for the public use of the dining hall, continuing an open campus tradition that coincides with the accessibility to local recreational trails directly adjacent to the dining hall parking lot. The main hall’s interior’s ‘wedge’ configuration is typically utilized as one contiguous space, and the different roof slopes further delineate the three individual spaces that may be used separately. An operable partition subdivides the dining area and allows a range of events, from 75 to 250 people, to occur simultaneously.
Initial cost, durability, and ease of maintenance were all primary factors in determining materials for the building envelope, without compromising sustainability. A durable, High-Albedo membrane roof is cost effective and stays cool in the summer heat. The locally manufactured brick is robust and maintenance free. Copper shingles are not only beautiful, but also contain seventy-percent recycled content.
Storm water flow is a significant driver of the site design. Rainwater is directed to three drip chains at the edge of the western roof overhang, where it flows through landscape features in the plaza. Water is then channeled through natural treatment and holding areas before making its way to the campus wetlands. The building’s reduced water consumption is achieved with waterless urinals, low-flow toilets & faucets
Extraordinary efforts by the contractor resulted in eighty-five percent less construction waste. Operationally, after feeding 700 lunches the building generates less than one trash bag of waste per day that isn’t composted or recycled.
Over 42% of total building energy savings from baseline is achieved with the aid of a 27 kilowatt roof mounted solar photovoltaic array. The proliferation of natural daylight was also a priority to help to reduce the amount of power typically required to operate artificial light fixtures while at the same time providing for a much healthier visual atmosphere. The intent is not to use the artificial lighting except during overcast days.
Semple Brown Design team: Bryan Schmidt [PIC], Sarah Brown, Dru Schwyhart, Tom Gallagher
[renderings & photos by Dru Schwyhart]
Location: Englewood, CO