Friends Seminary Dining

New York, NY
Angled Ceilings and Open Soffit Create New School Dining Experience

To reflect their status as a premier K-12 school and the oldest co-educational facility in New York, Friends needed to update their dining facilities, which had not been touched in 25 years. The project required an entirely new kitchen, separate dining areas for the lower and upper school, a new air conditioning system and all the electrical and plumbing infrastructure replaced. Given its location in the basement beneath the historic Meeting House, the project was constrained by a low ceiling, small windows and could not expand beyond the original footprint.

The new dining areas surround and highlight an open kitchen and serving line, allowing the students to see and learn from the food preparation. A u-shaped serving counter separates the kitchen from the dining area, with separate serving stations allowing an easy flow to pick up food. Artificial quartzite counters sit on cabinets below set with stone-lined boxes at varying heights to break up the mass and provide storage for the serving plates. The angled wood canopy above adds warmth to the space, with the angles creating a light profile that holds the code-required sprinklers and smoke baffles. An existing brick structural wall separates the two dining halls, with glass & steel infilling the existing brick archways to provide acoustical separation. In the two dining areas, the ceiling maximizes the height in the center, while angling down on all sides to mirror the serving line wood canopy and house all of the air conditioning equipment and infrastructure. Light fixtures are set in a random pattern on the ceiling, aligned east-west and following the angles of the ceiling, to fall down the walls on all sides. Colored floor tile strips mirror the lights above, tying the entire space together.

Photography / Peiheng Tsai