Project File: Dining in at school

The construction of Wetlands Cafe at Eisenhower Elementary School, Hopkins, Minn., is part of a $9.2 million, 80,000-square-foot project to transform a 1950s high school complex into an elementary school, community center and school district offices.

Instead of demolishing an unused gymnasium, the architect, operating under the principles of sustainable development, saved the structure and used the gym's assets, including a maple floor and a beautiful view to the north. The floor was refinished, and wood panels were extended to the ceiling to improve aesthetics and acoustics. A wall was removed to make way for a large, curved glass wall, which provides a view to the north. The design is a stylish environment that looks more like a high-end food court than a traditional school cafeteria.

The cafeteria's food program serves only nutritious meals made from fresh ingredients. The cost of running this more expensive program is subsidized by enabling the public to patronize the cafe. The cafeteria serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers take-out services for busy parents, and catering services for the district and local organizations.

The architect for this project is Cuningham Group (Minneapolis).

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