Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Serving as a central hub between two buildings on the hospital campus, the Saint Mary’s cafeteria aims to attract visitors and staff, providing quality service and efficiency. The facility focuses on ease of flow, and self-service while making a clearly identifiable space that will promote convenient movement. “Customers want to be here, and want to come back.” The layout is designed to maximize efficiency for both staff and visitors. Focal elements such as ceiling clouds call out food stations and seating zones. The curved, glass tile wall serves as a focal feature for dining and as a navigational tool, leading one from the entrance through the cafeteria to the exit. Through variety, materiality, and layout the cafe aims to accommodate different uses, work styles, and sizes or groups of people. Mobile tables and seating allow spaces to be customized to better serve a large family or one individual alike. The ceiling layout was designed without a grid to promote furniture movement and flexibility without visual ‘grid’ constraints. The perforated metal panel lid and lowered drum lighting provide an intimate zone within the cafeteria. Through principles of biophilic design, the material palette of the cafeteria is designed to rejuvenate someone just be stopping by, yet also welcome people to ‘stay a while.’ Elements are taken from nature and brought into the space. The flagstone wall carries from outside to inside, bringing a familiar exterior material indoors. Western light is drawn in through a wall of floor to ceiling glass. Wood, stone, and plant material are located throughout the cafe to bring the warmth of nature indoors. All of this promotes healing and eases tension for both staff and visitors.