To accommodate future growth at the residential quadrangle, the former cafeteria building needed to be removed and replaced. The solution was to expand a modest multi-purpose recreational/events facility close to the heart of campus and create the Mueller Leadership Center - an $8.4 million, 20,000SF facility with a 380-seat dining hall reminiscent of a grand hunting lodge or cathedral. Supporting this primary venue are three intimate private dining areas, and a servery with a more contemporary "Seattle coffee-house aesthetic." The lower level contains the bookstore.
Mackey Mitchell worked closely with Westminster to understand the campus culture. A clear preference emerged from students and faculty for a traditional architectural expression, inspired by the Collegiate Gothic dining halls found in Oxford and Cambridge, which then informed dining hall design at many American Ivy League universities in the early 20th century. Drawing inspiration from a relocated Christopher Wren church, an iconic landmark on the Westminster campus, the design employs traditional elements such as fireplaces, exposed wood timber ceilings, custom wrought-iron chandeliers, and a grand entry tower serving as a new campus landmark.
Former college president George Forsythe praised the project saying, "It's a favorite venue for poetry readings, small concerts, and social functions. Classically elegant, the design is warm and inviting, making it one of the College's signature buildings. People from the community come to the College for its food and ambiance, contributing to a goal sought by many institutions of higher learning - removing the barriers between 'town and gown.'"
Passion + Perspective
The Mueller Leadership Hall is the center of our campus life, where our global community gathers to share good food and fellowship.
- George Forsythe
(Former) President, Westminster College