gb&d: What inspired this project?
Bryan Schmidt: Kent Denver had a very tiny dining hall. It only sat about 200 people when the campus population is 800. As a consequence, some kids were starting to eat lunch as early as 10:30 while others didn’t finish until 2 p.m. That was putting a crimp in the academic day, and Kent Denver wanted to make the lunch period shorter. That required a larger dining hall.
gb&d: Was sustainability a requirement from the beginning?
Schmidt: Sustainability, yes; LEED Platinum, no. The first question was, should we save the existing dining hall? As a firm, we do a lot of building rehabilitation, so my off-the-cuff reaction was to say, “Sure!” From there, we decided to pursue LEED certification because the school’s trustees wanted an accounting of how sustainable we were going to be. Then, when we got to looking at it, we went with the “go-big-or-go-home” philosophy. It was a leap because there weren’t any other LEED Platinum facilities like this for us to model our project on.
gb&d: What was the site like?
Schmidt: Big, 210 agrarian acres, and we wanted to ensure we were being sensitive to that, so there are numerous indigenous plantings, as well as an orchard that produces fruit used in the kitchen.
Location Englewood, CO
Size 20,000 ft2 (8,000 ft2 renovation, 12,000 ft2 new construction)
Program Dining hall
Architect Semple Brown Design
Structural Engineer KL&A
Civil Engineer V3 Companies
MEP Engineer ME Engineers
Landscape Architect Christopher Hoy Design Group
General Contractor CMC Group
Sustainability Consultant Enermodal Engineering
Kitchen Equipment Duray
Food Service Provider Sodexo
gb&d: What are some of the more notable green elements?
Schmidt: The roof is this funky, sculptural thing, but it does an awful lot. It channels rainwater in very visible ways, from high points to a low shading edge, where it falls down a drip chain into some grassy landscape elements in a plaza, then into the natural landscape. So everyone sees the path of the water. Although the seating plaza is well shaded, clerestory windows below the roof provide ample, even daylighting to the 7,000-square-foot floor plate of the dining area, so the lights are rarely on during the day. We also used evaporative cooling and a 27-kilowatt, roof-mounted solar photovoltaic array, the latter of which has a live feed to monitors in the dining hall so people can track energy usage on a live basis. And, we have an indoor green wall that produces herbs that are used in the school’s kitchen—although we didn’t get any LEED points for it, it’s like a fireplace in that it’s the focal point of the room.
gb&d: What part of the project are you most proud of?
Schmidt: Beyond the facility’s success as a dining hall, it has also been a huge hit as a special event venue for the school and the surrounding community of Cherry Hills Village.
gb&d: I understand that you’re already working on another project for Kent Denver?
Schmidt: Yes, and the motivation for it is similar to the motivation for the dining hall. The school has a mandatory sports requirement and not enough gym space. So, some kids start practice at 5 a.m., and other kids end practice at 10 p.m. So, in the 16,500-square-foot Yates Pavilion, we’re providing two full-size practice courts and one new competition court as well as some new lockers and concessions. We’re shooting for LEED Gold, and it will incorporate many of the successful elements of the dining hall.