This project created a fresh student plaza surrounding the University of New Mexico’s newest food service location. Surrounding the Fresh Box cafe, a shipping container building, the new plaza addressed existing non-ADA compliant site conditions while creating an updated gathering space for the UNM campus and specifically for the university population in the science and engineering schools. 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. Grades surrounding the tree were maintained while additional landscape space was added to provide the tree with a healthier environment. Site furnishings including benches, bike racks, picnic tables and litter/recycling receptacles were all selected for aesthetic alignment with the new cafe. UNM standards were also included in the design. A customized 2.5’ X 5’ concrete control joint pattern was used to create 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.