The UNM Fresh Box Plaza project created a fresh student plaza surrounding the University of New Mexico’s newest food service location, the Fresh Box Cafe. Surrounding this shipping container building, the new plaza addressed existing non-ADA compliant site conditions while providing an updated gathering space for the UNM campus, specifically the science and engineering school student population. Using planters and seat walls to retain grade and create a sense of enclosure, the area was leveled to provide a flat space for the building and accessible entry points at two sides.
Groundwork Studio worked with UNM, their food service vendor, Chartwells, and the ASUNM to design a flexible space that addressed food service and student recreational needs. The design also preserved a large existing tree at the plaza’s north end, adding additional landscape to provide the tree with a healthier environment. Site furnishings including benches, bike racks, picnic tables and litter/recycling receptacles reflected the branding and aesthetic of the new café while aligning with UNM standards. A customized 2.5 by five-foot concrete control joint pattern was used to emulate the feeling of entering a separate space without the added maintenance requirements or pavers. Additionally, chamfered notches and expansion joints were cast into the walls to create integrated skate deterrents that supported the overall design aesthetic. The resulting space promotes community and respite for the students of UNM.