The Lower School cafeteria, the newly constructed Centennial Hall, began construction in the fall of 2014. Only taking 10 months to finish, the estimated first lunch will be the 28th of September. A planned grand opening celebration with be the 7th of October. Along with a fancy new canopy walkway to the first and second grade building, this new bright and open space for the Lower School is a great addition for the Collegiate community.
Scott Carson, Collegiate’s Director of Facilities Management and Construction, told me about the many exclusive details to the Centennial Hall. Instead of just a cafeteria for the Lower School, it can also be used as a multipurpose space. In the ceilings, there is a “quality” built-in audio system to support the projector and a screen for potential meetings if needed. Using the spacious room and projector, a large-scale presentation could be possible. Collegiate is also allowing the building to be open to the community. Due to our good relationship with River Road Presbyterian Church, our school is allowing them to use the space for any program. The church could benefit from this because of the easy access they have to the new building.
When you first enter Centennial Hall, you are standing on a balcony facing the large cafeteria. Carson explained how parents could wait for their child here, someone could deliver a presentation, or, better yet, musicians could play while people enjoy their meal or meeting. Built with the same building materials as the other buildings in Lower School, the Centennial Hall fits in perfectly. The cafeteria space has natural light coming from each side of the building. The space can be blocked off with pocket doors to a separate, smaller meeting room, on the side and has a projector and screen for potential future meetings. The big lunchroom also has a projector and screen but also a counter facing Fort Cougar if parents or grandparents come to eat with their kids. The staff truly thought of everything.
Everyone is very excited about the new building, especially the kitchen staff. One Lower School employee visited the new kitchen and said she “loved it and can’t wait to get in there”. The chef manager, Frank Gray, is excited to utilize the space they will have in the kitchen. According to Gray, the new ovens operate without grease and cook food using a higher temperature and more steam, therefore making the food healthier. The new flow of the kitchen will also help save steps for the employees when making the food. The refrigerators can be opened from the kitchen and behind the serving lines so the food comes out fresh. There are two service entrances: one for the new food to quickly get to its proper storage, then another for waste to go to either recycling or the dumpster. Surprisingly, there are cameras from the service entrances facing the junior lot and police directing traffic during carpool just in case of an incident.
To prepare for the design of the kitchen area, Carson and his team took tours of other Virginia school cafeterias to get inspiration. They also worked with a food service consultant to help with organization and being productive in the kitchen. This construction team has done a great job of designing and building the special Centennial Hall, open to the Collegiate community in just a few days.
Click HERE to read more about changes in the Lower School.
Photography by Eleanor Dillon