Penn State University, Findlay Commons

Findlay Commons received a significant update to meet mealtime expectations and community gathering needs of students, in addition to replacing mechanical systems pasts their anticipated service life. This complex renovation was phased to enable continuous operation during construction.

This project was recognized for superior higher education design, winning the 2019 ACUI Facility Design Excellence Award.

State College, PA

125,350 SF


Year / Status

Invigorating Campus Life with a New Dining Experience

An inviting light filled stair, with lounge space overlooking the residential quad, reengages the formerly isolated second floor dining into a cohesive experience. The visual connection between the levels integrates a variety of completely new dining venues on both floors. 

The two-story addition creates a dramatic new entry welcoming students from the quad. The exterior was completely updated, enhancing views to and from the surrounding campus while improving energy efficiency.

A Variety of Food Options

On the second floor, there is a choice of all-you-care-to-eat and retail dining options. Venues include a sushi bar, soup/salad bar, a deli, lunch/dinner buffet, and allergen-free/ kosher stations. The first floor includes a new C-store; coffee shop, and grill, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Long-term Planning for the Future

During the schematic design phase, our team initiated a highly interactive planning process with the goal of upgrading this facility so that menu changes could be accommodated more easily, and to create a satellite student center for the underclassmen living in the dorms near the dining hall. 

The building needed to be comfortable enough that students would want to stay beyond mealtimes, while being finished with materials suitable for a dining hall, that were easy to clean and maintain. 

The planning process began with a series of Visioning Sessions facilitated by the University. Students participated in these sessions to provide input on dining preferences and other priorities for the student life design.

“The team created an outstanding dining facility that has become the successful prototypical model for our other dining operations across campus.”

- Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, The Pennsylvania State University

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