Aligning Space with Student Needs, UC’s MarketPointe Re-Opens

At any university, the classroom and the dining hall share an important goal: Keeping students engaged and providing a sense of belonging and community. Housing and food service leaders at the University of Cincinnati (UC) understand the imperative to get students (particularly first-years) out of their rooms and into spaces where they connect with peers, make friends, build relationships, and feel a sense of well-being. We’ve been working with UC to help them achieve these goals with the renovation of their MarketPointe dining facility, which re-opens to students this semester. UC recently hosted an open house to celebrate its completion.

The renovation enhances MarketPointe’s mid-century design DNA, while upgrading the dining experience to align with the needs of 21st-century students. Strategies to achieve this include optimizing the space to be used outside of typical meal hours; broadening the menu to include more choices for those with allergies or dietary restrictions; and creating an environment where students can choose how to use the space on their own terms.

Counter seating with views of campus welcome single diners; banquettes and easily configurable table arrangements give students choices around how they like to eat, socialize, or study. Students, especially first-years, prefer sitting at the edges rather than in the center of spaces. Placing the servery in the center of the space makes good use of what is often underutilized table seating and helps alleviate queuing backups in other areas. A distinctive new element is the custom feature wall we designed for the space. Using a simple shape to configure a dynamic pattern, we created and tested different mockups and collaborated with local fabricators to craft the pieces for the feature wall.  Ample access to power outlets, warm wood accents and crisp white furnishings help elevate the dining experience.

“Students have to eat somewhere,” says Zachary Zettler, GBBN’s director of higher education. “They want options, and options drive revenue. We’ve worked with UC to bring options, function, and beauty into the renovated space to help position MarketPointe as a first choice for students.”

Read more about the design strategies we used to help position MarketPointe as a campus magnet and get a sneak peek at the renovated space in this University of Cincinnati video.

Learn more about our higher education work here.