Designing the first full-service dining facility at NRELs Colorado campus
At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado—centrally-located between the campus’s garage and the net-zero energy Research Support Facility office building—lies a brand-new cafe. The cafe is the first full-service dining facility to be built on the campus and can accommodate 240 guests at any given time, with the balcony and north terrace providing additional seating for 70-plus people.
The mission behind the cafe was to offer convenience while embracing and celebrating the surrounding mesa environment and providing views of the arroyo. Use of the 12,000-square-foot dining facility will be staggered to accommodate all campus employees while promoting the efficient and economical use of the dining hall throughout the day.
Set on what will become the campus’s main pedestrian mall, the facility’s primary entrance is marked by a stairway with sunlit spaces and casual seating, as well as a gabled roof—both of these features reflect the campus’s existing architecture.
Upon entering the Café, visitors will encounter high ceilings and an abundance of natural light. The interior dining area provides flexibility with furnishings that accommodate a single guest stopping in for a quick breakfast or a group meeting for lunch. The Café also offers more relaxed, lounge seating options, while the material selection and textures were chosen to evoke comfort without sacrificing ease of maintenance and durability.
At a Glance
- 2012 Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Colorado, Best Building, Silver
- 2013 Design-Build Institute of America (National) Project Award, Honor Award, Civic Buildings
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