American University – Mary Graydon Center Dining Hall

Washington, D.C.


Quick Facts: Aramark/American University

Client: Academic, Interiors

Size: 14,750 gsf – 675 Seats

Services: Interiors, Graphics

Photographer: Jessica Marcotte

Awards: Outstanding Design Award, American School & University Magazine

Winstanley Architects & Planner is pleased to announce that American School and University Magazine (ASU) has chosen American University’s Mary Graydon Center Dining Hall in Washington, District of Columbia as the recipient of the Outstanding Design in the 2018 American School & University Architectural Portfolio — the premier showcase celebrating the best in education design. This is our second time being selected for an Outstanding Design and our fourth award from American School and University Magazine.

Mary Graydon Center is the main dining hall for students, faculty and staff at American University. This 1928 building is the location of the 14,750 square foot, 675 seat basement dining venue. The design team was faced with the daunting task of improving this basement space which had no windows, no daylight and a “forest” of clumsy columns scattered throughout the floor plate.

Our solution used the forest of columns to create just that: a forest. By using original photography commissioned for the project, the design team mapped non-repeating images of trees on the columns to visually dissipate the solidity of the column mass. Organized along a central spine, the serving stations satisfy the various culinary offerings by the Food Service Provider and allow the diners to meander through the space. The color palette in the spine is designed to reflect more naturalist colors of stone and sky. The balance of the space is finished in wood tones, and the serving stations have off-white counters and stainless steel fixtures to present a bright and light environment to showcase the food.

The University also requested that the project reflect its location, so the design team again commissioned the photographer to create a panoramic mural of the main quadrangle which was mapped onto a large blank wall in the main seating area and lit from above with a linear light cove.