McGuire AFB

The Makeover of the Mess Hall

Chow halls, messes, galleys, and dining facilities (DFACs) are a familiar part of the military culture. Their history and evolution can be traced back as far as the military itself. These facilities have served our servicemen for generations. Unlike other aspects of the military, garrison feeding programs have seen little evolution since their inception, which is why the Air Force identified the need for a paradigm shift in how garrison feeding programs are approached.

LOCATION: Wrightstown, New Jersey
MARKETS: Restaurant

With the increasing competition presented by off-base private dining options available to soldiers, the Air Force instituted the Food 2.0 initiative aimed at renovating the dining experience from an institutional-style feeding platform to a station feeding concept prevalent on most college campuses.

CESO’s architecture team was challenged with organizing the multi-station program for Halvorsen Hall, an aged facility in McGuire Air Force Base, while improving circulation and use of space. Simultaneously, they were tasked with updating the environment both aesthetically and functionally. The creative process for our team involved a detailed review of the existing facility as well as an overnight design charette and presentation to the Air Force. Hand sketched plans developed to 3D perspective rendering and then into multiple iterations of 3D walkthroughs and material boards. Sketchup, Revit and Enscape were used during the multiple reviews, approvals, revisions as well as value engineering.

Instead of traditional cafeteria-style serving lines, the renovations added serving stations which afford airmen the opportunity to proceed directly to their station of choice. The addition of exhibition style cooking stations also provides made-to-order, nutritious menu entrees which emphasize healthy dining options. This unique dining experience fosters a community atmosphere and highlights creative merchandising accented by vibrant finishes and distinctive fixtures.