McGovern Hall

Centerbrook’s design for this renovation strengthens student connections with completely reimagined and expanded facilities for dining and student services.


University of Saint Joseph

Location West Hartford, CT​
Size 27,000 Sq. Ft.
Features renovation
Program kitchen, servery, dining, café, campus store, offices, meeting spaces, event space
Year Completed 2020
Photo Credit Derek Hayn/Centerbrook
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The University of Saint Joseph had long been a private university for women located on a lovely 90-acre campus laid out by the Olmsted Brothers in the 1930s. USJ admitted men for the first time for the 2018-19 academic year and built an NCAA Division III men’s basketball program. These decisions made addressing deficient student life facilities a high priority.

Our gut-renovation of the mid-century McGovern Hall provides expanded dining areas for a growing student body, and creates opportunities for social interaction and campus events. Its servery, reimagined as a diverse collection of seven micro-restaurants, takes on many of the cooking activities that couldn’t be accommodated in the limited space of original back-of-house kitchen. Among the offerings from the all-you-care-to-eat menu are a deli, a grill, pasta and pizza with a visible oven, a demo chef venue, and an allergen-free station. Centerbrook collaborated with Bakergroup on the project’s food service design.

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The seating areas can accommodate up to 325 diners, and has a mixture of traditional low-top and high-top tables, booths and banquettes, and lounge seating. They were designed as multi-use spaces for a variety of discrete, simultaneous gatherings.

The renovation also included a new standalone Jay's Nest Café, which features Starbucks coffee, and is a popular on-the-go or late night spot for students looking for a snack or meals. Adjacent to Jay’s Nest is USJ’s new campus store. Student services offices and meeting spaces were created at the opposite end of the building. Accessibility and life safety issue were also addressed with a fire protection system and a passenger elevator, both of which the original building lacked.

Facing the tree-lined Olmsted quadrangle, an expanded outdoor dining terrace can now be accessed directly from the dining lounge.