All Roads Lead to Rand Hall
Vanderbilt University GRESHAM, SMITH AND PARTNERS
VA N D E R B I LT U N I V E R S I T Y R A N D H A L L SHOWCASE SIX
anderbilt University’s Rand Hall serves as the primary dining facility for one of the nation’s ﬁnest universities. Located at the heart of the historic campus, it’s been said that “all roads lead to Rand Hall,” with dense foot trafﬁc converging from multiple directions and main sidewalks terminating at the building. Originally built in 1953, Rand Hall has endured multiple vertical and horizontal additions over the years, resulting in a confusing building that was notorious for its circulation issues. In 2000, Rand Hall was fully connected to the adjacent Sarratt Hall, which was built in 1974. However, joining the two long-standing buildings never resolved the chronic circulation issues and only added to the chaotic atmosphere. When Vanderbilt Bookstore vacated Rand Hall, it became the catalyst for long-awaited change. Poised to expand into this valuable campus real estate, Vanderbilt selected GS&P to devise a master plan and execute the comprehensive 75,000-squarefoot renovation.
Corporate + Urban Design
Architecture Building Information Modeling (BIM) Environmental Graphic Design Interior Design Master Planning
TEAM PIC, PM Patrick Gilbert, AIA, LEED AP PP Kelly M. Cathey, AIA PC William C. Mays PD Jeffrey W. Kuhnhenn, AIA, LEED AP PD Jack E. Weber, IIDA, MCR, LEED AP ID Martha T. Fox, IIDA, NCIDQ, LEED AP
To get the most out of the prime location, Vanderbilt solicited the input of almost 1,500 students via surveys and focus groups to determine what types of spaces would be best utilized at the center of campus. The students ultimately selected a new student center, space for student services, food services and a campus convenience store. Given the all-encompassing nature of the renovation, the GS&P design team established fundamental goals in an effort to keep the project focused. These key objectives included correcting circulation issues; renovating and expanding the dining center; creating a student center, convenience store and much-needed space for student services; and through it all, conveying a distinctly Vanderbilt University message. “We’ve worked with Vanderbilt Campus Dining for 15 years in the Rand Hall building,” says Patrick
G. Mike Summers
Left: The dining center servery area had not been updated since the ‘90s.
Above: This first phase of the two-phase project involved gutting the existing dining center to the shell with the exception of the GS&Pdesigned Chef James Bistro (above)—a 2,000-square-foot, retail-style restaurant located within the same space. Right: Renovated servery designed to utilize curves and enhance flow.
Gilbert, GS&P senior architect and principal-in-charge on the project. “Since then, we’ve had about 10 different projects in the same facility. Over the years, we realized that trafﬁc patterns within the building needed to be streamlined. A large number of paths and sidewalks on campus led to Rand Hall, and in some cases major sidewalk systems actually put you through the building, so there was a lot of cross trafﬁc. “The perfect storm came together when Vanderbilt Campus Dining was able to combine efforts with the Sarratt Student Center and the two entities controlled enough of the real estate in the building to effect change. At the very same time, the campus bookstore vacated and moved to West End Avenue, basically leaving an empty department store in the center of the campus, which we referred to as ‘the corner of Main and Main.’”
A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY Coordinating with Vanderbilt Campus Planning, Vanderbilt Campus Dining and the Ofﬁce of the Dean of Students, the GS&P design team developed an aggressive, phased design schedule—starting with the renovation and expansion of the dining center—that would allow students to leave for summer break and return to a brand new dining facility in the fall. “We had a window of opportunity to complete the ﬁrst phase of construction and also allow Vanderbilt Campus Dining to get the building operational for the fall semester,” says Gilbert. “This is the primary dining center on campus, and it’s basically the location for all of the lunchtime trafﬁc. Our goal was to have the dining servery and the
main dining rooms completed between May 15 and August 1—and we achieved that.” This ﬁrst phase of the two-phase project involved gutting the existing dining center to the shell with the exception of the GS&P-designed Chef James Bistro—a 2,000-square-foot, retail-style restaurant located within the same space. Extremely popular with students, the look and feel of the award-winning bistro was to play a vital part in the expansion and renovation. “It was very important that we add curves to the new servery to help with the overall ﬂow,” explains GS&P interior designer Martha Fox. “So we took our cues from the Chef James Bistro and we connected the new servery to that.” “We expressly created those curves so that when we removed a dish drop that was in the way, we
could keep that curve going,” adds Gilbert. “It creates a sense of movement so it’s not a static space. We also had to play with the psychology of design to make you feel comfortable with a lot of people in a relatively small space. The curves help give the impression of more space.” Accents such as wall tile along with ﬂooring patterns also help pick up the transition between the Chef James Bistro and the new servery. Detailed in yellows and greens to enhance the appearance of food, the new servery and dining area improves circulation and offers students a ﬁrstrate culinary experience in a warm and inviting setting that includes an exciting new dining concept for the facility—made-to-order pizza, baked fresh in Rand Lounge.
“It creates a sense of movement so it’s not a static space. We also had to play with the psychology of design to make you feel comfortable with a lot of people in a relatively small space. The curves help give the impression of more space.” —Patrick Gilbert
GOING WITH THE FLOW To remedy overarching circulation issues that had hampered trafﬁc ﬂow within Rand Hall for years, the design team devised a primary circulation system typically reserved for a different type of trafﬁc. “After the sidewalk system came to a dead end at the Rand building, you had nowhere else to go but through it,” explains Gilbert. “Trafﬁc came in and ﬁltered through the dining room and the servery and then back out again. There was an existing corridor, but it was not well deﬁned. Our No. 1 priority was to ﬁx internal circulation. So we used a planning system like you would for highways in the form of an intuitive ‘super highway’ corridor system that went through the building logically so you would naturally stay on the path. But there were a lot of protrusions along the way that we had to tear down.” To establish a clear path of travel on the building’s main level, an existing vestibule and dish room were removed. Tile ﬂooring was installed to deﬁne the corridor, an existing stairwell was removed and a new monumental stair was relocated to access the upper ﬂoor. To take advantage of campus views, additional windows were added in key areas. “The space before was just not inviting,” says Gilbert. “A staircase
in the servery was creating a lot of diagonal cut through, so we removed it to prohibit people from taking that route. In return, we created a corridor system that is very well deﬁned, and there is literally a light at the end of the tunnel now. And people automatically want to head toward the light.” Once in place, the super highway corridor system gave the design team a framework “WE USED A PLANNING to build upon, allowing them to make individual SYSTEM LIKE YOU WOULD FOR developments along the HIGHWAYS IN THE FORM OF way, such as the addition of two elongated stretchAN INTUITIVE ‘SUPER HIGHWAY’ es of café-height countertop, located just off CORRIDOR SYSTEM THAT WENT the corridor, to further THROUGH THE BUILDING prevent cut through. “It’s all about keepLOGICALLY SO YOU WOULD ing people on the road,” NATURALLY STAY ON PATH.” says Gilbert. “We’re either literally keeping —Patrick Gilbert them on the road or we’re suggesting they stay on the road—and it works. People are using that main circulation path now. It acknowledges that you are connected to the campus at so many points. Every time you come in a major entrance you’re on the highway. Creating that corridor system ﬁxed the circulation issues.”
Tile flooring was installed to define the corridor, and a new monumental stair was constructed to access the upper floor.
A clear path of travel on the main level was established so that every time you come in a major entrance, youâ€™re on a super highway.
NEW MAIN LEVEL CIRCULATION
Before: When the sidewalk system ended, traffic would build up through the dining hall.
After: A well-defined super highway corridor system was built to create a clear path of travel.
VA N D E R B I LT U N I V E R S I T Y R A N D H A L L
PREVIOUS MAIN LEVEL CIRCULATION
Before: The exposed roof. After: A new connecting corridor was added across the roof.
UNIFYING SPACES The second phase of the extensive project encompassed the new student center, the campus convenience store and space for student services. Since the upper ﬂoor consisted of two spaces that were separated by a roof with no physical connection between them, an enclosed connecting corridor was added across the roof. Additionally, a monumental stair was constructed between the two ﬂoors to further increase connectivity. With Rand Hall, Sarratt Hall and the former campus bookstore uniﬁed, the ﬁrst ﬂoor of the empty bookstore could be transformed into the new student center, and its upper level converted into a space for student services. This extreme makeover, however, did not come without a few surprises. “The old bookstore was like a windowless department store that was essentially its own box,” reﬂects Gilbert. “It was a separate, two-story
structure. To get to the second ﬂoor you had to use an internal stair within the bookstore, but it didn’t connect to anything else. We knew the building had incurred multiple additions over the years, but we really didn’t know how many or exactly how they’d been added on. “We discovered that the bookstore was originally just the one story. When the second ﬂoor was added, a complete roof was left in place and a new ﬂoor was placed on top of the roof, so there was a lot of stuff we had to cut through. “We also learned that when the bookstore had been added onto multiple times the column grids didn’t align, and there were a plethora of columns within the space that was to become the new student center. No one realized this building had so many additions, but it was our job to ﬁgure out how to knit it all back together.”
To address this unexpected challenge, the design team came up with a unique zone concept that created a brand new purpose for the existing columns. “We decided to work with the columns,” explains Gilbert, “and we ended up creating ﬂexible seating around them in different zones, which worked extremely well.” Designed for LEED certiﬁcation, the new 7,000-square-foot student center includes a multipurpose performance area with tiered seating that operates as a food service and study area by day, and transforms into an entertainment venue at night. Multiple windows were added to the space to provide daylight and views of the surrounding campus. New mechanical and lighting systems were also added, along with new water-efﬁcient restrooms.
A monumental stair was constructed to provide access between the two floors.
The new campus store included black and gold throughout the tile flooring, wall coverings and graphics.
“We created a student center that can be whatever the students need it to be,” says Gilbert. “This is the center of campus, and we wanted to provide the students with a place to ‘see and be seen.’ We also made it extremely ﬂexible, so as student tastes and desires change, the space can ﬂex with them.” On the upper ﬂoor, new meeting spaces and ofﬁces designed to enhance the Vanderbilt student experience provide student services with the additional space they so desperately required. “Students can now come here to conduct meetings for their campus organizations,” says Gilbert. “They also have ofﬁce space and a large, ﬂexible area where they can work on creative projects. We completely closed off student services from the ﬂoor below so we didn’t have the noise of the dining center coming up into the space, but we still managed to make it feel light and bright like the ﬂoor below.”
Also light and airy and offering school supplies, snacks, assorted beverages and all things Vanderbilt, the new campus convenience store, located on the northeast corner of Rand Hall’s main level, strikes a distinct contrast between the former occupants of that space. “Here you had a primary retail location on campus and it was a set of toilets and an enclosed stairwell,” says Gilbert. “Now, not only do we have light coming through the new stairwell we’ve created, but we have light that comes through the store’s large, exterior windows, so the hallway is nicely illuminated.”
Approximately 7,000 square feet of open space was used for seating and a flexible live performance area.
Above: New dining concept: made-to-order pizza with a focal point oven. Selected finishes establish a cozy and intimate feel, yet coordinate with the other dining venues. Right: Seating was tiered to provide good sight lines.
DISTINCTLY VANDERBILT Throughout the newly renovated building, Vanderbilt University’s characteristic black and gold colors are aesthetically highlighted in wall coverings, custom carpets, dimensional lettering for signage, tile ﬂooring and graphics. As a ﬁnishing touch, large-scale photographic images depicting life on campus were installed in strategic locations. The duotone wall graphics also act as visual cues that enhance wayﬁnding. “It was very important, both for Campus Dining and the Sarratt Student Center as a client, to make sure the building conveyed that it was distinctly Vanderbilt,” says Fox. “And we took a lot of measures to make sure their true colors really showed.” “It’s the heart of the campus so it had to live and breathe Vanderbilt University,” adds Gilbert. “The University is very good about photographing the campus, and they had a wonderful repertoire of images for us to choose from that were distinctively Vanderbilt University. “We took those images and put them in as a sepia tone with a small amount of color and sprinkled them throughout the facility. We used images of the campus buildings. We used a large image of mortarboards at graduation that features the black and gold school colors. All around you are images that say, ‘this is what it’s all about.’”
A key stop on the tour route for prospective students and their parents, the newly renovated Rand Hall provides students and staff with a cohesive, comfortable and diverse space that clearly represents Vanderbilt University’s commitment to excellence and quality. “This building needed to look and feel like Vanderbilt University, and I truly believe we’ve accomplished that,” says Gilbert. “Prior to the renovation they had a building that was simply not up to par with their competition. Today, Vanderbilt University has a building that allows them to compete at the level they need as an iconic university within the United States.”▪
Right: The innovative design solutions in this project allow university students and staff to enjoy a cohesive, organized, comfortable and diverse space. Far Right: Multiple windows were added to provide daylight and views of the campus.
Gresham, Smith and Partners provides design and consulting solutions for the built environment that contribute to the success of national and international clients. For more than years, GS&P has focused on enhancing quality of life and sustainability within our communities. GS&P consists of industry-leading professionals practicing architecture and engineering design as well as scientists and highly specialized strategic and management consultants in Aviation, Corporate and Urban Design, Environmental Services, Federal, Healthcare, Industrial, Land Planning, Transportation and Water Resources. GS&P consistently ranks among the top architecture and engineering firms in the world.