Dalton Dining Commons
New York, NY

The Dalton School Dining Commons renovation establishes an academic crossroads, where modern and traditional design elements together express the school’s core philosophy of fostering individual creativity with academic discipline.

Dalton’s busy school day, set within its tight, vertical urban “campus”, is enlivened by the new school Commons. Here, explicit forms combine to create a vital academic crossroads given to the school’s “progressive” and “traditional” aspects.


A structured “Loggia” frame and a free-form “Wave” ceiling align along intersecting program axes. These two axes, one defining the spatial functions of the primary spaces: the Dining Commons and the Academic Lounge, and the other bisecting thru with the main circulation path, punctuate directional and expansive spatial gestures defining lounge, circulation and dining areas.

The renovation relieves an existing busy congested hallway and separate dining hall with an open, sunlit multipurpose space and new food service facilities where over 1200 lunches are served daily to faculty and students. A concealed sliding wall system provides additional versatility for separate functions. For the students who congregate here socially, the new Commons has become the heart of the school community.

Dalton’s commitment to eco-sensitive design resulted in more energy-efficient kitchen and mechanical systems. Natural material finishes and playful forms enliven and humanize student areas. In the belief that “like plants, children need sunlight”, daylight harvesting enabled the existing, limited exposure to natural light to be enhanced and borrowed across the newly expanded Commons space.

CLIENT: The Dalton School

AREA: 6,000 SF; executed two school-year phases

PHOTOGRAPHY: Kevin Chu + Jessica Paul Photography; Chuck Choi Architectural Photography

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