No. 133 . 05 February 2003 
ArchitectureWeek
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New Curve in System Ceilings

by Graeme D. Gee

Design for the school cafeteria has come a long way since the 1960s and 1970s when sterile, unimaginative "lunch boxes" were the norm. Today, school designers and administrators are more aware of how aesthetics can affect the learning environment. As a result, architects are increasingly incorporating expressive design elements into the construction of school rooms, including cafeterias.

One proponent of this practice is Ken Allen, project architect for Legat Architects, one of the largest Chicago-area architecture firms specializing in school construction. Legat has recently completed a 10,000-square-foot (930-square-meter) cafeteria at Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois. Part of a larger renovation, the cafeteria features a specialty ceiling that is open and airy, and that creates an inviting atmosphere for students to eat, read, and converse.

While students may not consciously notice or appreciate the newer design elements, an attractive facility may subliminally increase their mental productivity, spark creativity, and encourage them to spend more time there.

With specialty ceiling systems appearing more commonly in public venues, like contemporary offices, restaurants, and retail spaces, the public, young and old, are coming to expect more interesting spaces than those with only a flat plane overhead.

Making the Case for Specialty Ceilings

Legat Architects had several challenges to consider when choosing the ceiling type for Niles West High School. Working closely with school officials, they had already decided to try for an industrial, high-tech look. Legat project designer Vania Marchetti explains: "since the cafeteria was located in the industrial arts wing, [this choice] reinforced a cohesive theme."   >>>

 

 

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