Foodservice Equipment Reports
Kitchen Design

DESIGN: Boston Beauty

Not quite a year ago, Boston University, Boston, opened a major new residential dining facility in the Center for Student Services where the multimillion-dollar project now is serving 20% more students than the three smaller operations it replaced.

The client’s goal, says Peter McGillicuddy, associate FCSI, sr. associate, Colburn & Guyette, Rockland, Mass., was to create a new dining facility like no other, one that would deliver an over-the-top dining experience for the students, faculty and visitors it would serve.

Consider that goal accomplished. The East Campus facility epitomizes 21st-century university foodservice with an exciting design, decentralized layout and an emphasis on sustainability. The Marciano Commons dining complex, which received LEED Gold certification, comprises close to 48,000 sq. ft. of net dining space on three floors, says Director of Dining David Davenport from Aramark, the school’s contract foodservice operator.

The Colburn & Guyette team was responsible for 16,000 sq. ft. of the foodservice space, including a main kitchen, serveries with display cooking stations and open kitchens, all cold and dry storage and dishrooms.

“The client wanted display cooking locations with different themes, and they wanted each to be fully self-contained,” Davenport explains.

The biggest challenge, he recalls, was the space limitation of an urban environment. Square footage was a constant issue as the consultants and foodservice provider sought to find space for everything the client wanted.

Foodservices By Floor

The lowest level, actually in the basement, contains a retail restaurant called Late Night Kitchen and a retail bakery café/coffee concept named RiZe. Late Night Kitchen, which is currently an order-at-the-counter affair, likely will turn full-service in the future. The compact concept features a full-size hearth oven for pizza, a crepe station, a sauté station and a grill. At RiZe, customers can grab espressos and pastries, grab-and-go meals from a display case or custom order a sandwich. The level also includes a dedicated dishroom with a corner dishmachine, eliminating the need to send soiled wares up a floor for cleaning.

The combination of the ground (or first) and second floors is the all-you-care-to-eat, 920-seat residential dining facility—The Fresh Food Co. at Marciano Commons—with more than 15 self-contained stations. Stations on the ground floor include: the Deli, Grill, a Mediterranean concept, Pizza, Bakery and Toast/Waffles. Stations for hot and cold beverages and self-serve cereal also are included on this floor.

Up one level on the second floor, students and faculty choose from Sauté, a self-serve Veggie/Salad station with an adjacent display cooking component (where, for example, hot proteins can be added to salads), Center of the Plate entrée selections, an International station equipped with tandoor ovens and vertical rotisseries and a Gluten-Free concept.

The Gluten-Free station comprises a physically separated area (where a chef can prepare fresh, gluten-free selections on a four-burner range), self-serve soup wells, dedicated food-prep equipment including a mixer and, importantly, a Meritech automatic hand-wash station (users simply stick their hands into wash chambers, which clean and sanitize automatically). Adjacent to this fresh-prep area is a gluten-free pantry where students can select prepared foods from a reach-in refrigerator and microwave them on site.

Exceeding Expectations

The incredible menu variety offered at these self-contained stations and, in particular, the gluten-free area, turned out to be a major selling point for the university in drawing students, according to Chris Wright, project manager with equipment partner TriMark USA, which oversaw the installation of the equipment.

“Today’s students are very food-savvy and appreciate the variety offered
by the various stations. And parents and students visiting the school during
February and April school vacation periods were impressed with all they saw, particularly the gluten-free area.” Gluten and dietary restrictions are an especially big issue today. And while it was a huge task to separate all of the food prep in that station from everything else going on in servery space, Wright says it absolutely turned into a selling point for the university.

Students and guests are impressed with the authenticity of the equipment throughout the facility, as well, Davenport adds. “In one of our stations we have two Wood Stone tandoor ovens, which we use for lunch and dinner. We make naan daily and use the ovens for a variety of skewered curried items—salmon, marinated meats, etc. They’re extremely high-heat ovens [900°F] so you get this crunchiness on the outside of the foods you cook that students love. Tandoori is very popular.”

The whole facility, he points out, was designed to offer a better experience for the students, one that allows them to see the food being prepared and interact with those making it. With a diverse and worldly student body and urban customer base, authenticity is critical.

Marciano Commons Manager Joseph Cacciatorre agrees. “The food,” he points out, “is the star of the show here.” The facility is equipped with the most authentic equipment to serve a sophisticated menu. In addition to tandoor ovens, stations feature rotisseries, hearth ovens, a wok range, tortilla presses, crepe makers and other specialty items for ethnic food preparation. “We even make our own pasta,” Cacciatorre says.

Energy Efficiency A Priority

Marciano Commons currently is feeding between 5,000 and 7,500 students a day. “Four years ago, we had three aging facilities that needed major renovation,” Davenport recalls. “It was more cost effective to build something from the ground up than to renovate. The new building was designed by architect Dan Raih and his team at Bruner/Cott Associates, Cambridge, Mass., which won an invitational design competition among six competitors. The project took 17 months to build.”

Everything at Marciano Commons is top of the line with a heavy emphasis on energy savings and sustainability, Davenport says. “Our equipment is all Energy Star rated, we have a Somat disposer to reduce trash volume, Meiko M-Q dish machines that save us money on water and chemicals and high-efficiency refrigeration through a racking system.”

“All the equipment that could be remotely refrigerated was, using Kairak systems,” McGillicuddy says. “By doing this, we eliminated the heat-producing compressors from all of the cold food wells, air curtains, roll-in and reach-in and undercounter refrigerators and freezers, ice makers and more—and they are located throughout all the stations and kitchens. By eliminating the heat produced locally by typical compressors, not only is the space more comfortable, but we reduced the amount of conditioned air needed for the space, as well.”

Marciano Commons is equipped with Halton M.A.R.V.E.L. II demand-control hoods that adjust exhaust rates automatically to the amount of food cooking below, from high exhaust when the chefs are at peak production to conservation mode when equipment is idle.

These building-wide systems have been the most satisfying, Davenport says, because they so dramatically improve working conditions for employees and ambiance for customers.

“The employees love the new facility,” he says. “It’s airy and wide open. Before, we had cooks cooking in basements, year in, year out. Now, it’s all open kitchens, and we cook as much as possible to order with equipment front-facing the customers.”

Challenges And Outcomes

At Trimark USA, Wright found the project “excellent and challenging.” With a total cost of $54 million, it involved a large amount of equipment to service the individual stations.

“There were many levels of challenges,” Wright recalls. “We had a $3.8 million equipment contract, and the university was great to work with. One of the biggest challenges was that every floor had different finishes for the counters [designed by BSI LLC], and the results are spectacular. Also, there was no loading dock at the basement level, so everything—every piece of equipment—had to be brought in by crane. It made the logistics more complicated than usual,” he says.

Collaboration Leads To Success

The process was a proactive collaboration between the university, architects, food facility designers, equipment coordinators/fabricators and foodservice contractor—with very high aspirations from each of the players.

The end result is a showplace, accommodating groups of students and individuals. It delivers ultra-customized foodservice and quick-service options. The stations are flexible enough to allow the operator to tap new food trends and introduce new items, and the food is authentic and varied enough for all customers, all the time.


University dining facility with three components: The Fresh Food Co. (residential dining with individual, decentralized stations), retail bakery-café (RiZe) and Late Night Kitchen (retail restaurant)

Boston, Mass.

Serveries and kitchens: 16,000 sq. ft.

920 seats residential dining (The Fresh Food Co. at Marciano Commons) and 156 seats retail (Late Night Kitchen, RiZe)

$54 million

$3.8 million

Colburn & Guyette, Rockland, Mass.

Bruner/Cott Architects, Cambridge, Mass.

Bond Brothers, Everett, Mass.

VanZelm Engineers, Farmington, Conn.

BSI LLC, Denver

TriMark USA, Attleboro, Mass.

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