Late-Night Access to Durrell Express

“The old Durrell Express was popular but undersized, with limited food options and very little seating,” says Lategan. “The new DX accommodates many more customers and provides more menu options. In addition, the comfortable seating makes it a great hang-out space.”

The renovated DX is a vibrant destination spot nearly double in size with rich wood floors and wood slat-and-beam ceilings, emulating a contemporary ski lodge. “Located in the northeast corner of the building, the shell was expanded, and floor-to-ceiling windows were added to create what was coined [the ‘lantern’ during the design process], because of how it would illuminate and glow at night,” Maestas says. “This lantern creates a beacon for the customers and functions almost like advertising,” Lategan says.

In addition to the fresh, premade ready-to-go salads, sushi, sandwiches and desserts available, customers can select prepackaged retail items, create custom beverages at the upright soda machine dispensing more than 100 flavored soda choices, and enjoy hand-dipped milkshakes and 15 authentic flavors of gelato made on-site and served from a glass display case. Customers can eat at traditional tables and chairs, as well as lounge seats and bar-height counters and chairs along the face of the window walls.

Modified Dock Allows Pallet Breakdown Cooler

The main kitchen was kept intact as much as possible, though designers modified the space in order to expand the servery and DX. “We were challenged to take some space out of the kitchen without impacting the staff’s ability to perform prep functions,” says Al Moller, FCSI, principal, Ricca Newmark Design.

In response to the need to reclaim space in the reduced-size kitchen, the loading dock was modified to accommodate a new outdoor pallet breakdown cooler. The increase in refrigeration is necessary to accommodate the greater meal-production volume in the marketplace. “The challenge to the dock modification was that the walk-in had to tie in with the rooflines and couldn’t conflict with the architect’s aesthetics,” Homersham says. “The addition had to tie into the flooring of the existing walk-ins.”

Food deliveries arrive at the loading dock on pallets. Staff wheel pallets of cold food into the walk-in cooler that sits on the dock. Staff next distribute food to coolers or freezers that other team members can access directly from the kitchen. “This way, food goes directly into a safe, controlled temperature area and is kept out of the danger zone,” Lategan says. “Dry goods are palletized separately and taken into a specific area with large doors to accommodate the pallets. Later, when staff members are available, they break down the pallets and check for accuracy. If anything isn’t right, staff notify the company, but truck drivers aren’t held up waiting for our staff, and this reduces the cost of the deliveries.”

In the kitchen, designers replaced and upgraded some of the cookline’s equipment, including fryers and combi ovens, and removed old convection ovens. Staff use the fryers, char grills, conventional and combi ovens, tilt skillets and kettles to make sauces, soups and items that don’t lend themselves to display cooking in the marketplace. In addition, a few of the hot holding units were removed. “We must use a few of these, but we have taken a just-in-time approach to avoid the deterioration of food in hot holding equipment,” Lategan says. Also in the kitchen are additional dry storage space and a new pot wash area.

The dishroom sits adjacent to the main kitchen, but its location allows students to drop their dishes off to an accumulator as they exit the dining area. A closed-coupled pulper minimizes waste volume. A large grinder, or pulper, in the dishroom accepts wet food waste, paper and cardboard and, after pulping it, transfers it to an extractor station that removes water with augers and discharges the pulp into containers. This system reduces waste volume to less than an eighth of what emerged from the basic system, and because the gray water is recirculated back to the scrapping trough and reused, the water usage is also reduced significantly.

Change Continues

Change seems to be a constant on CSU’s campus. A new 1,000-bed apartment residence will be constructed in 2016. And a cook-chill facility is on the horizon, which will provide additional production efficiencies. This will supplement the central production areas where staff make sandwiches and salads, baked goods and fruit cups, desserts and sushi for retail operations. In addition, a kosher venue will open next year. In the meantime, Durrell is making a positive impression on guests and raising the bar of expectations of what college dining is all about.

Key Players

  • Director of Residential Dining Services: Deon Lategan
  • Associate Director of Residential Dining Services: Mark Petrino
  • Assistant Director of Support and Culinary Operations: Peter Testory
  • Project Managers at CSU: Rick Pott and Cass Beitler
  • Procurement Manager: Skyler Thimens
  • General Manager, Durrell Dining Center: Ben Marks
  • Production Chef: Jeremy Morgan
  • Architect: 4240 Architecture Inc., Denver; Louis Bieker, principal in charge; Tracy Hart, NCARB, LEED AP, senior associate; Andy McRae, project architect; Sage Case, LEED AP, interior designer, lower level; Benjamin Gray, construction administration  
  • Culinary and Interior Design: Ricca Newmark Design, Denver; Thomas D. Ricca, FFSCI, founding partner; Erling ‚ÄúAl‚Äù Moller, FCSI, principal; Lona Homersham, project director; Michelle Maestas, project designer; William Rivera Jr., project designer
  • Equipment Dealer: Johnson Lancaster and Associates, Clearwater, Fla.; regional office in Greeley, Colo.  
  • Construction: Mark Young Construction, Denver; Garrett Burrell, project engineer; Aaron Phillips, project manager

Facts of Note

  • Ownership: Colorado State University (CSU) Residential Dining Services
  • Opened: Fall 2013
  • Scope of Project: To transform an outdated 60-year-old dining center into a modern marketplace with display cooking, fresh food options and a new Residence Life center. The building‚Äôs lower level serves as programming and flexible space for Residence Life activities and summer conferences. It includes multifunctional meeting rooms, quiet study nooks, and lounge/game areas for students. Guests enter the dining center on the first floor through a grand staircase. This upper level includes the 6,400-sq.-ft. marketplace, 6,125-sq.-ft. dining area and 2,300-sq.-ft. late-night retail outlet. The all-you-care-to-eat marketplace seats approximately 426 and serves as the major food source for the residents of Durward Hall, Westfall and the upcoming Laurel Academic Village. The marketplace features distinct food platforms: international, pizza, grill, breakfast, salad/soup/deli, interactive noodles and pasta, gluten-free zone, dessert bar, waffles, condiment, cereal bar and two beverage stations. A 4,000-sq.-ft. space containing the kitchen, storage and dishroom supports the marketplace.
  • Size: 22,200 sq. ft.
  • Seats: 390 indoor dining, 78 outdoor dining, 36 private dining room; 43 Durrell Express
  • Average Check: all-you-care-to-eat, $11.15 (for paying customers)
  • Total Annual Sales: more than $4 million (projected)
  • Daily Transactions: 3,000 (projected)
  • Durrell Dining Center Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:45 to 7 p.m.
  • Durrell Express Hours: 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily
  • Menu Specialties: The International Station serves entr?©es and sides from regions in the U.S. and around the world, including Korean bulgogi, Japanese ramen, and South African bobotie and peri-peri shrimp. The pizza oven-based concept offers cooking diversity for menu items such as personal hand-tossed thin-crust pizzas with customers‚Äô choice of ingredients, garlic rolls, Chinese baked baos, calzones, cinnamon straws and pizza rolls. The gluten-free zone provides breads, desserts, condiments and cereals as well as daily plate specials. At Durrell Express, offerings include quick grab-and-go-items and specialty desserts, including gelato made in-house
  • Staff: full-time, 27; part-time students, 80
  • Total Project Cost: $8.9 million
  • Equipment Investment: $1.8 million (includes new and existing equipment)
  • Website:

Sustainable Initiatives

At Durrell, CSU follows through on its promise of sustainability by extending the life of an existing building, reducing consumption of resources such as energy and water, reducing waste, and supporting sustainable practices such as composting food waste. To meet the minimum sustainability goal of a LEED for Commercial Interiors Gold certification, the project team identified 89 points to pursue.

“We had challenges meeting the 50-footcandle requirement for lighting,” says Michelle Maestas, project designer for Ricca Newmark Design. A variety of fixtures, lamp types and color temperatures create definition and character throughout the space. Illumination fixtures are less obtrusive and more celebrated because they are integrated into the design. Arrays of decorative fixtures provide an identity and uniqueness to each area within the space.

LED lighting is also a predominant feature at the Durrell Center. It washes the face of counter fronts and glass tile soffits, provides color-changing tape light for glass inset wall panels, and illuminates a 12-foot-by-6-foot custom acrylic lightbox that is suspended from the ceiling and crosses through the entry door threshold into the late-night venue, DX. “At the serving lines, LED lights are integrated into food shields to help bring light levels up enough to accentuate those pieces,” says Maestas. “In addition, all exterior glazing on the building was replaced in order to bring more natural light into the building.”

The design stressed the importance of indoor air quality by using low-emitting materials such as adhesives, sealants, paints, coatings, flooring systems, composite wood, systems furniture and seating wherever possible. The finish materials, including concrete countertops, glass tile and carpet manufactured from recycled water bottles, use rapidly renewable resources, post-consumer recycled content, Forest Stewardship Council-certified woods, and regional materials.

Since Durrell’s opening, CSU continually educates visitors and tells its green story. Throughout the space, visitors see various pieces of artwork and other decorative features, including custom-designed steel wall panels with laser cut green works and phrases at the entrance to the dining space. In addition, the university’s sustainable education program informs occupants of the building about its green features.

In addition, the design emphasizes water and waste reduction by use of low-flow plumbing fixtures, treating stormwater with removal of 80 percent of total suspended solids, and by installing a pulper system to minimize waste volume.

Collectively, these implementations and analyses generated a high-performance, sustainable dining facility that maximizes the productivity and enjoyment of the staff and students, while minimizing impact on the environment and saving financial resources long term.

Marketplace Interior: Monolithic and Simplistic

In an effort to reduce daily maintenance, the design team was challenged to remove the typical kick plates from the counters, exposing the back-of-house work areas to the front-of-house aesthetics. "This inspired us to celebrate the form and function of the architecture of the building within the design of the counters," says Michelle Maestas, project designer for Ricca Newmark. "Because the base of the counter was going to be exposed, we decided to use continuous flooring throughout the space, which enabled us to play with the shapes of the counters themselves. Due to the curvature of the design, we decided to use concrete countertops and create large monolithic elements in which we could explore the plastic nature of concrete and overaccentuate the missing kick plates, adding interest to the counter fronts."

"For example, the bottom edge of some counters were raised as much as 14 inches off the floor," says William Rivera Jr., project designer with Ricca Newmark Design. "Since the concept of using concrete counters in this type of facility was relatively new to the design team, it posed a challenge and required a lot of coordination — not only during the design process, but in the fabrication process as well."

"We had to thoroughly evaluate each counter and what type of equipment was being used to determine how much space we could take away from the counters," Maestas says. "The plate shelves presented themselves to be the biggest challenge because we had limited depths where we could recess in some areas due to compressors and other components."

By maintaining a monochromatic canvas on the floors and walls, the design team brought dramatic pops of color into the four serving venues, providing an identity unique to each, while working collectively together in the space. The design of the dining room employs the use of dynamic colors and materials, booths, banquettes and high-top seating, which give students the opportunity to socialize, relax or study, thereby providing environments that are similar to or better than what they could find off campus.