Small Education Spaces Designed for Big Impact

  

Large new construction projects on collegiate campuses typically generate buzz amongst students and faculty alike. The impact on the campus fabric, from construction noise to safety fencing, becomes an unavoidable but intriguing occurrence that can generate quite a bit of excitement. The financial scope of these project types can reach tens- to hundreds-of-millions of dollars and, although large projects are important to the viability of a college or university, sometimes even small investments can have a big influence on the student experience. Beyond the immediate student body, they can lead to big returns for institutions, communities, and the economy.

An example of a project with significant, lasting impact can be found at Daytona State College’s Daytona Beach Campus in Florida. DLR Group was tasked with transforming two traditional lecture classrooms and support spaces on the second floor of the iconic Mori Hosseini Center into an active learning environment for the newly created Hospitality Beverage Science program. At just under 3,000 SF with a construction and FF&E budget of less than $1 million. You may find these figures trivial for a college that serves more than 16,000 students, but the potential return on investment for the state as a whole is the real driver behind the project.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida’s hospitality industry employs 1.2 million people, or roughly 10 percent of the state’s workforce. And digging a little deeper into the brewing industry, the Brewers Association Economic Impact Report finds more than 6,000 breweries operated in the country in 2017, and 83 percent of adults over the age of 21 live within 10 miles of a brewery. Full-time equivalent jobs in craft brewing total 456,373, a 7.5 percent increase from 2014, and craft brewers contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016 – a 21.7 percent increase from two years prior. In other words, the beer business is booming.

Someone carefully studying this growth trend in his local community was Chef Costa Magoulas, dean of Daytona State’s College of Hospitality and Culinary Management. He recognized an opportunity to train a qualified workforce and keep young adults from leaving the state. The college’s new program paves the way for the new Hospitality Beverage Science Program as a way prepare local students for local brewing and hospitality-related careers. He already taught a popular introduction to beer and wine course, but found himself writing curriculum and collaborating with college and state officials to create the state’s first-ever credited program for beverage science.

Brewing is hands-on and Chef Magoulas, along with Chef Jeff Conklin and other faculty, wanted to ensure students would be trained in an authentic learning environment. DLR Group’s design team worked closely with chefs and facilities planning staff at Daytona State College to establish this project’s big idea: to create a space that paralleled the commercial/retail environment that would offer the real-world experiences and hands-on instruction students need before they enter a detail-oriented and physically demanding workforce. Rather than create another standard classroom, we asked how a taproom, bar, and micro-brewery could double as a teaching space and lab. This way, students could engage with the chefs and other instructors as patrons would in a bar or restaurant setting. Doubling up on the functions of learning and practice increased utilization and efficiency of the space. As students enter the remodeled area, the open teaching space doubles as a taproom/bar at the front. A micro-brewery production lab is situated behind it with a supporting milling room and a separate lab room for storing yeast and brewing ingredients.

This open concept, from taproom to production area, affords students the opportunity to learn both front-of-house and back-of-house operations, including customer service skills; pairing beverage and food; pouring techniques; and the science behind the brewing process. The space is rounded out with a custom-made, wall-mounted wine display and wine fridge, coffee and buffet serving areas, and cocktail tables to compose a hospitality environment. This flexible design increases utilization options for the Hospitality Department, allowing campus constituents to host hospitality events, small gatherings, and even administrative and collegiate meetings or activities.

When I reflected on this project with Chris Wainwright, associate vice president for facilities planning and operations, he told me this was the first time he has been involved with a project that completely re-envisions and transforms the traditional learning environment.

“Daytona State College has many lab spaces sprinkled throughout our campuses but this one is completely different. Where else can you sit at a fully functional bar as you learn to brew beer like a master brewer, pair wine and beer with international cuisine, as well as interact with a state-of-the-art point of sale system? The added bonus is that the space functions as an amazing backdrop for special VIP events. The new Beverage Science Lab has helped to bring the culinary institute at Daytona State College to the forefront of learning institutions within the country.”

As the hospitality and tourism industry continues to thrive in Florida alongside the growth of craft and micro-breweries, this project aspires to be the catalyst for future hospitality- and tourism-related collegiate programs to appropriately respond to the fast-growing need for qualified workers in Florida. The moral of this story: regardless of size or scope, any campus project has the potential to make a significant contribution to the vitality of an institution. The new Hospitality Beverage Science Lab and program elevates the student experience in an authentic environment in less than 3,000 SF and on a limited project budget. This “minor” transformation and renewed and expanded program is quickly becoming the most sought-after class on campus, training the most in-demand workers in the state.

Next time you are in Orlando let’s connect for a beverage. We may find ourselves being served by a graduate of Daytona State College’s Hospitality Beverage Science Program.

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