Over the last century, as Washington University grew in stature, the on-campus residential areas were less than a preferred choice for undergraduates. Mackey Mitchell was engaged to re-imagine and create an entirely new experience for on-campus housing. The South 40 Housing and Dining project is a four-building village that transforms the South 40 neighborhood from a lackluster residential area into a vibrant, award-winning, living-learning community. A major goal for the 355,228 SF, $157 million, LEED Gold project was to define and create an attractive pedestrian "spine," a vital axis carrying the neighborhood’s 3,300 students to the main Hilltop campus.
Modeled after European streetscapes, with a central pedestrian plaza flanked by mixed use buildings, the team addressed complex challenges, including topography issues, sound abatement, rigorous sustainability standards, respect for the greater residential area, and complex phasing in order to keep existing buildings open while construction was underway. The result is a five-story mixed-use facility with 650 suite-style beds, residential life offices, fitness center, meeting rooms and College Hall, a flexible dining and event venue. The main dining center serves 3,300 students offering a wide range of dining options, including a bakery and c-store, a marketplace with multicultural display cooking, Kosher kitchen and an innovative demonstration kitchen. Its supporting kitchen serves as the main commissary kitchen for the University catering services. A living roof spans over the kitchen and loading dock providing needed community green space for residents and herb gardens for the kitchen.
The South 40 is now a destination of choice for students and a significant recruiting tool for the University. The central pedestrian spine graciously flows through the grade and becomes a setting for campus performances and outdoor dining. Social areas within the neighborhood provide a strong sense of place and order in an eclectic community that continues to evolve over time. "South 40 dining exemplifies the balance of form and function in the design process," said Joyce Fasano, WU’s campus dining master planner, "Not only is it beautiful, but it is also efficient to operate."
The design, the idea behind the design, the planning, and the execution have all been really impressive.
- Hank Webber
Executive Vice Chancellor for Administration at Wash U