Architects: Maloney and Tessier
Worcester Dining Hall is an approximately 69,000 square foot dining facility on the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts. The building is adjacent to the Northeast Residential Area and designed to serve the dining needs of students and staff.
In contrast to the uniformity of the Georgian Revival style in the residential areas, the dining facility was designed without historical details and incorporated modern forms and material assemblies.
The building is setback from North Pleasant Street by a surface parking lot and was sited according to the north-south axis of adjacent residential district. The 2-story building is an asymmetrical composition of rectangular bays. The current steel and concrete frame building was constructed in two coordinated phases. Both feature flat roofs, continuous coping, and commonbond brick veneer. Additional exterior materials include brownstone piers, brick-rubbed concrete, and limestone window heads and sills. Each façade is defined by the spacing and composition of large bays that are glazed with both fixed and operable rectangular panes. At the first level, the windows are shaded by fixed overhangs.
The west entrance elevation is 7 bays wide, with each defined by a full height steel window-wall. The outlying bays are framed piers faced with brownstone ashlar. The central bay is framed with tapered concrete piers and includes a double set of metal frame doors. The building entrance is accessed via a raised terrace with aggregate pavers and integrated cast-concrete fence posts and bench frames. Two secondary entrances are located at the north elevation and face the adjacent residential district.
For much of the school’s early history, the services and amenities of a residential college, namely food and housing, struggled to meet the needs of the growth in student body. Such conditions were typical of the United States public education system prior to World War II. In 1948, strains to the campus facilities were publicized, particularly the 3,220 student body dining in Draper Dining Hall. Since its construction in 1903, Draper Hall had served as the only dedicated dining facility on campus, but was designed to accommodate a student population of 300. Such conditions supported the $7 million Van Meter Building Program initiated in 1948 aimed to double student capacity on the 700-acre campus within three years. All dormitory construction was alumni financed.
The first phase (47,000 SF) of Worcester Dining Hall was constructed in 1953 to the west of Thatcher Way and East of North Pleasant Street and adjacent to the Northeast Residential Area. The project reflected a new “zoned” approach to the post WW II demands of the student body and dispersed housing and dining capacities across the campus.
Following the completion of Hasbrouck Hall in 1950, the University adopted a modern approach to the design of all new academic buildings. Although there were virtually no distinctions in the building’s construction technology from other projects of the period (concrete and steel frame) the exterior form was a clear departure from the Georgian Revival style influencing the dormitory construction. Such a distinction was not uncommon to this period of post-WWII campus architecture, when academic facilities often embraced the symbolic connotations of modern design, while residential construction adopted the historic.
Although not exclusively for female students, the facility was intended to be the principal dining commons for female residential district following their assignment to the Northeast campus and the relocation of dining services from Butterfield Hall. In 1955, and only four years following completion, the need for facility expansion was already recognized and an addition was planned as well as a new facility for the south campus. The second phase of Worcester Dining Hall (22,000 SF) was completed in 1961.
Worcester Dining Hall, as well as all other campus dining halls, was named for one of the western counties of Massachusetts.