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August 23, 2007

Purdue's Windsor Dining Court wins national award

Windsor Dining Court
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Purdue University's Windsor Dining Court has won an outstanding design award from College Planning & Management magazine.

The magazine named the dining court a Project of Distinction in its June 2007 Education Design Showcase issue. The dining court won a similar award from American School and University magazine last November.

College Planning & Management praised the design that transformed a confined space into a relaxed, inviting and highly efficient dining atmosphere that would blend well with the traditional look and feel of existing campus dining facilities.

The marketplace-style dining facility features English accents, including slate and clay tile flooring and brick and oak paneled walls with limestone and iron architectural features that blend with the existing motif in the attached Windsor Residence Halls. Historic lighting fixtures from the previous dining hall were incorporated into the new design. Natural lighting pours in through large windows.

"The building is a total evolution from institutional to restaurant dining," said Barbara Frazee, executive director of University Residences. "It's a smaller space than some of our other dining facilities, so it feels more intimate."

Architectural firms that Purdue Housing and Food Services hired had to address several significant mechanical and engineering challenges for the redesign.

"Although the existing building had several spatial limitations, we wanted to make it as open as possible," said John A. Sautter, vice president for Housing and Food Services. "The new design is noteworthy because dining and food preparation occur in the same place, which tends to create a more unique dining experience."

Sarah Johnson, director of dining services for University Residences, said students have reacted favorably to the new facility.

"Diners find it easy to navigate several distinct food service areas and access whatever ambiance or seating options they prefer, including tables, stools or booths," she said.

Flooring and ceiling designs define seating arrangements. Dining areas are broken into smaller areas, each with a change of furniture style, booth design and accent light fixtures. The magazine praised the design for creating the intimate feel of a high-end restaurant.

Windsor Dining Court is just west of the center of campus on North Intramural Drive and is open to the public. The 38,000-square-foot residence hall dining court can seat 500 diners. Small groups can reserve private dining rooms for breakfast or weekend meals. Eight food stations allow diners to choose from international foods such as Indian, African, Caribbean or Italian, as well as vegetarian or American dishes. Fresh-baked goods and self-service waffles are available at every meal. A focal point is the Sizzling Salad Station, featuring a rotating selection of freshly sautéed meats served on a bed of greens.

The original Windsor dining hall closed for renovations in 2003. The upgraded dining facility reopened in August 2005. The $12 million project is part of a six-year, $58 million food service plan that is funded through bonds that will be repaid through savings generated by increased efficiencies resulting from consolidating the number of campus dining facilities.

Purdue University Residences has based the Windsor Dining Court design on the same concepts as the previously opened dining courts at Earhart and Hillenbrand halls and the freestanding Ford Dining Court. Wiley Dining Court, another freestanding design, is slated to open in 2008.

"These dining services are so popular, it's not uncommon for Windsor, Earhart, Hillenbrand and Ford to serve 17,000 people in a day," Johnson said. "Students come from all over campus to these new courts in appreciation of what we have to offer."

Writer: Jim Schenke, (765) 494-6262,

Sources: Barbara Frazee, (765) 494-1000,

John A. Sautter, (765) 494-1022,

Sarah Johnson, (765) 494-1000,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Windsor Dining Court has gained national recognition for an innovative design that creates a restaurantlike atmosphere that combines food preparation and dining in the same space. (Purdue Housing and Food Services photo)

A publication-quality photo is available at

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