Quinnipiac University – North Haven Dining Hall

Amenta Emma Architects repurposed under-utilized space for the North Haven Dining Hall at Quinnipiac University in North Haven, Connecticut.

Several Quinnipiac University graduate programs are housed on a former corporate campus a few miles from the main Mount Carmel campus. The circa 1980 building had a well-worn cafeteria space that students largely avoided, and an underutilized rear patio in disrepair. What began as a project to update furnishings quickly evolved into a partial renovation that converts the outdated 9,400 SF cafeteria into an engaging student-centric dining hall used for socializing, studying, dining and games.

The goal was to take this multi-functional space and create a variety of flexible seating and spatial environments that encouraged greater student use. Moving away from the large, undifferentiated cafeteria that was, designers created a series of lounge spaces within the dining area. These spaces featured unique finishes and lighting, along with lounge furnishings that offer an alternative to traditional dining seating. Student engagement with the new space also was enhanced by creating easy access to technology and power, with many of the furnishings having direct plug-in capacity.

Understanding that they had to make a big impact by working in small ways, designers took the opportunity to try new ideas and test materials. For example, they took advantage of existing assets, such as skylights, and created a unique wooden ceiling canopy, with illuminated acoustic baffles, that aid with acoustics in a noisy environment and add texture to the space. The project also resulted in a meaningful collaboration between the University’s Integrated Marketing & Communications Group and the Amenta Emma’s graphics and interior professionals to create a signature Quinnipiac feature wall.

Architect: Amenta Emma Architects
Photography: Robert Benson