Table Talk

Carnegie Mellon University, The Exchange Renovation and Expansion

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Pittsburgh, PA | 2,780 SF

More than a new look, the updated Exchange nourishes body and mind.
Differentiating the made-to-order from the grab-n-go lines resolved queuing issues while allowing the Exchange to serve more people more quickly.

Offering delicious food and a warm welcome, The Exchange at Carnegie Mellon is more than a long-term tenant. It’s a beloved campus institution. But with challenged seating, dated interiors, and a cramped queueing that spilled out into the corridor, the space was due for an upgrade.

As part of the larger Posner Hall renovation, The Exchange was expanded and updated to better serve its patrons. While maintaining a visual connection to food prep areas—because patrons like to see their food made fresh—the renovation resolved queuing issues by differentiating between the sandwich, salad, and grab-n-go lines. Behind the scenes, a modernized kitchen, with a new exhaust hood, upgraded Energy Star equipment, and walk-in cold storage expanded The Exchange’s ability to handle the mealtime rush.

By incorporating a former lounge, the renovation nearly doubles the size of the dining area while introducing updated finishes and varied seating options.

Expanding into an old lounge, the renovation nearly doubles the dining area. Varied seating postures—high-tops near the windows, booths for a more intimate meal with friends, and communal tables—enable students to choose how to eat and engage with their peers. With so many options, the aim is to invite students to linger and connect, exchanging ideas and socials as they eat, talk, and study. The space is also segmented, so it can be used informally or for events during off-peak hours (and when the café is closed).