Dining Hall Renovation focuses on Comfort, Sustainability, and School Spirit
Founded in 1857, Illinois State University is the oldest public university in Illinois. Located in Bloomington-Normal, IL State ranks as one of the top 5 college towns in America based on its overall quality of life and among the top 10 for arts and entertainment opportunities. ISU offers modern facilities, including state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, libraries, and recreational spaces. This sets the bar and expectations high amongst the student body for arguably one of the most popular spaces on campus - the main dining hall!
The renovation of Waterson Dining Hall has been several years in the making. Last updated in 2012, it was time for a significant overhaul. Becky Franz, Director of Design Services in Facilities Planning, Design, and Construction for Illinois State University, shared that the ultimate goal was “functional, durable, and timeless” with specific features and finishes branded for proud IL State Redbird students. Becky contracted with Holabird and Root, renowned Chicago architectural firm, to redefine the space and create a comfortable environment for students and faculty to eat, relax, socialize, and study. After an excellent experience with Falcon furniture for the 2012 renovation, it was an easy choice to use them again. Falcon rep, Mary Beth Brudnak, worked with Holabird architects to develop the ideal customized Falcon products for the updated space.
As the largest dining hall on campus serving over 8,000 meals per day, the update of Waterson was a large undertaking, necessitating a two-phase plan. Phase 1 was scheduled for the summer of 2022 and focused primarily on chairs and Falcon J Series table bases with durable PVC edge table tops.
Phase 2, completed the summer of 2023, involved the installation of multiple customized Westbury booths and banquettes. The fabrics chosen were a mix of coated and woven fabrics from Momentum, CF Stinson and Pallas Textiles. They were selected to ensure they could withstand the use and abuse of such a high traffic space. The colors of the fabrics are a combination of Illinois State University’s ‘Redbird Red’, complemented by shades of charcoal. The booths were customized with an upper panel separating one booth from the next. This acts as a privacy screen, with an extra benefit of acoustic management.
IL State had several priority requirements for Phase 2 that supported the university’s dedication to sustainability. Ms Franz requested less packing materials for the booths and banquettes, resulting in less waste, fewer trucks on the road needed for delivery, and expedited installation due to less unpacking. The delivery team was also facing a small delivery time window leading up to the students’ arrival for the fall semester. The product was wrapped vs crated and the trucks were carefully loaded based on installation priority. This planning allowed Falcon to meet all of the requests for the timely delivery and installation of the booths and banquettes with no delays or product damage.
Ms. Franz credits much of the success of this project to the excellent communication among all involved parties. From the dealer to the architect to the manufacturer to the end user, everyone worked cohesively as a team. The Falcon rep, Michelle Sheridan and Steve Cohen, Corporate VP, Sales & Marketing for CF Group, had several walk-throughs during the process to confirm project specs and dimensions. This hands-on approach allowed them to make vital measurement adjustments as the project progressed to ensure precise manufacturing and installation.
Becky Franz, along with the entire Illinois State community, is extremely pleased with the final outcome of the Waterson Dining Hall Renovation. The customized wall art depicting scenes from around campus in all 4 seasons welcomes students in the 25 languages spoken on campus. Becky feels confident that the new Falcon furniture will add to this welcoming atmosphere for the hardworking students of Illinois State University.