Bakergroup dining designs win two US national grand prizes

University of Michigan foodservice projects honoured by national organisation

Bakergroup, a nationally-recognised foodservice and hospitality consulting and design firm, has announced that two of its projects at the University of Michigan were grand prize winners in the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) annual awards.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time one university has won grand prizes in two categories in the same year,” said Jim Sukenik FCSI, president and senior design director for Bakergroup. “One project is very large; the other midsize. The university’s interests were parallel to our own: create outcomes that attract and retain customer interest, for the long term. The university required both outcomes to be market relevant, creative, sophisticated, engaging and highly flexible. Fortunately, that’s our specialty.”

The “grand prize residential dining concepts” went to University of Michigan’s South Quad Dining facility. Part of a major residence hall upgrade, South Quad’s dining center renovation improved back-of-house operations and expanded seating capacity to 1050. The fourteen new food venues have unique brand identities and menus, developed in Bakergroup’s signature Micro-Restaurant™ format, which includes vegan, Asian, Latin, Mediterranean, an all-day breakfast bar and gluten-free options. Variations in seating, finishes and lighting create environments that range from a quiet enclave to a dynamic sports bar, while adjacent private dining rooms offer tasteful alternatives for small groups. Among many sustainable features, the dining tables and counters were made from repurposed bowling alley flooring.

Bakergroup served as foodservice consultant on the design team led by architect/interior designer SmithGroupJJR. This project and SmithGroup’s renovation of the entire residence hall also received an award of merit from the national Illuminating Engineering Society; an Award of Merit from the Detroit chapter of the IES; and an interior design excellence award from IIDA-Michigan.

“This renovation takes our success to a whole other level,” said Peter Logan, communications director for University of Michigan, University Housing. “Expectations and trends change, so it really articulates the whole Micro-Restaurant™ concept.”

The “Grand prize – retail sales multiple concepts/marketplace” went to the Fireside Café in Pierpont Commons on University of Michigan’s North Campus. The project transformed a 1960s-era, tray-style cafeteria to a 10,500 sf modern eatery with six different stations.  Made-to-order meals using local ingredients are served at Micro-Restaurants™ Greens, Grains, Soups, The Hearth, Flare and Fuel. The comfortable, open-seating space features several fireplaces, flat-screen televisions and surround-sound. Stantec, the architect for the project, reinforced the sustainable performance of the outcome by specifying automated lighting controls for the LED fixtures, carpet and tile with recycled content, and paint and flooring materials low in VOCs, among its other sustainable features.

“It’s an honour to be recognised not once, but twice, with the grand prize award. I’m proud of the teamwork that creates delicious, healthy food in responsible, sustainable ways,” University of Michigan dining director Steve Mangan said in a statement.

NACUFS announced the 2015 Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards at its national conference in July. More than seventy colleges and universities submitted entries that were evaluated by a jury of six peers. Selected for exemplary menus, presentations, special event planning and new dining concepts, the winners will be featured in the fall/winter issue of Campus Dining Today, the organisation’s professional magazine.

 Rosemarie Fabien


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