Swarthmore Tags DLR Group for Dining Hall and Commons Project

SWARTHMORE, Pa. — Swarthmore College has hired DLR Group to transform its existing Sharples Dining Hall into a community commons and to design a new dining hall.

While the 54-year-old Sharples Dining Hall is a campus landmark, the beloved facility has become too small to comfortably house the student body.

By converting the existing dining hall into a community commons space, DLR Group aims to generate enhanced opportunities for socialization between students, staff and faculty. The design will respect the historic character while elevating student life for future generations, according to DLR Group. A diverse range of spaces will be available for use, from individual study, to small group or large team activities, and integrated technology will allow for continuous connectivity throughout the building.

The new 800-900 seat dining hall will be designed with input from students, faculty and staff, according to DLR Group, and will offer a modern culinary experience. Together, the new dining hall and community commons will serve as a hub of activity and a cornerstone for social gathering on campus.

DLR Group will execute a comprehensive, 360-degree view engagement process to ensure all stakeholders have a voice in the project. The process includes campus immersion by the planning and design team via student, faculty, staff, and administration interviews, student focus groups, town hall meetings, and campus workshops.

In addition, DLR Group will research and explore various sustainable options to meet the College’s desire for a net zero solution, including energy reduction and production. Swarthmore’s existing 425-acre arboretum campus, which features rolling lawns, a creek, wooded hills, and hiking trails, will also influence the final design. DLR Group will use complementary materials and preserve the natural landscape surrounding the facilities.

The project is funded in large part by a 2013 gift from Giles “Gil” Kemp, Swarthmore College Class of 1972, and Barbara Guss. Design work begins immediately and construction will be completed in two phases. Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2020 with a grand opening in fall 2022.

“DLR Group is deeply honored to be selected as the College’s design partner to transform campus life. This project touches every individual on campus and reflects the institution’s culture of embracing sustainability, diversity, and inclusiveness at its very core,” said Stu Rothenberger, AIA, DLR Group Global Higher Education Leader. “We look forward to engaging and collaborating with the entire campus community to explore what is possible as we push the boundaries of sustainable design.”