Bigger, Better Mt. Carmel Café Reopens

CENTERBROOK, Conn. – Centerbrook recently completed a complex, phased expansion and renovation of the Dining Hall and Servery located in the heart of Quinnipiac University’s main campus. Offering more room, many more menu choices, and varied seating with sweeping views of the scenic campus, the new facility was designed to be a social hub for students and faculty. The Mt. Carmel Café in the Carl Hansen Student Center reopened for the fall 2010 semester.

Construction occurred over a period of 30 months and required careful planning of its phasing because dining services had to remain fully operational and the surrounding network of campus pathways needed to be open and unimpeded. After re-routing and upgrading myriad underground utilities, the project added two separate, two-story Dining Wings, and renovated all existing Dining and Servery spaces. Joseph D. Rubertone, Quinnipiac’s Vice President for Facilities Services, likened the project to performing multiple surgeries while the patient was still awake.

The new two-story Dining Wings add over 20,000 square feet, doubling the available seating to more than 1,000. The curved, glass-clad East Dining Wing provides lounge-style seating and views of the main student pathways linking the residential and academic neighborhoods. It is organized around a two-story, balconied oval court and a monumental staircase. The North Dining Wing features more traditional seating, with tables easily re-arranged to accommodate large groups as well as more intimate parties, and with panoramic views of Sleeping Giant Mountain and the campus quadrangle.

The existing Servery was doubled in size to accommodate the flow of patrons, especially at lunchtime. Diners can choose from 10 diverse cuisine offerings, among them Coyote Jack’s Grill, Wild Greens, Pizza Fusion, the Naked Pear Café, and Yan Can Cook. A coffee and espresso bar is open after dining hours.

The project also includes new office suites for food service and catering operations, student government, as well as informal gathering spaces. Natural materials, such as brick, stone, and rich slatted-wood in the ceilings lend a feeling of warmth and intimacy in keeping with the bucolic campus setting. The Centerbrook team was led by Partner-in-Charge Jeff Riley, FAIA, and included Principal Charles Mueller, AIA, and Project Manager Matt Montana.