Interaction diagram - students social connections transcend normative table layouts.
Fire Grill Island, Sea Grill, Slider Table and Pool Bar amplify the social aspects of high school lunching and increase the opportunities for interaction.
ChoiceMeet Cafeteria section perspective suggesting a range of diverse experiences within a single space, including semi-private dining niches, 24/7 DJ lounge, perimeter booths with views and daylight and greenroof lunch park.
A diverse range of foods and seating includes experimental taste test lab pods where students can try Beta version meals for a reduced price. Areas are zoned east/west with water, fire, ice, air themes crossing north/south zones of dark and light.
ChoiceMeet programs concept matrix illustrating diversity of public/private and larger/smaller spaces.
A brief evolution of the high school cafeteria; from single file, to U configurations, to themed stations and to independent no-cashier service islands.


The New York Times, Speculative

Commissioned by The New York Times Magazine, this proposal speculates on ways of improving the high school cafeteria experience by changing the way meals are prepared and by improving the environments in which they are served. The single most significant factor in making these improvements is already widely recognized: the need for increased choice for students.

Repetition of daily menus and bulk purchased foods products lead students to seek diversity off campus at for-profit restaurants and fast-food chains. ChoiceMeet would offer a range of fresh and pre-packaged packaged foods organized by food types and by speed of service. Students are encouraged to participate in the preparation of their meals at the Fire Island grill, bringing the social aspects of the hearth and kitchen together in the serving space. Taste-test Lab Pods allow food-service personnel to experiment with new menu items and offer them to students at a reduced rate in exchange for filling out rating forms evaluating them.

Students congregate in a wide range of group sizes or may seek to enjoy their lunch alone. ChoiceMeet would provide opportunities that allow students to eat together in different environments and group sizes for different durations of time. Quickie Lunch Bleachers allow students to eat alone, or quickly, but also allow for larger groups to assemble. The FireFlex Bar encourages chance meeting of individuals, while a more intimate, private series of tables are embedded in the thickened Nested Niche Wall for small groups. The Slider Beam tables are long tables diced in to small sections and glide along a continuous beam below and can be easily reconfigured to accommodate small or large groups.

ChoiceMeet would operate before and well after school hours, offering service (including a drive-through) to non-students and operating for profit. Instead of students leaving campus, the community is invited in. Handsfree Digicash cards would be available to speed service and provide parents with the opportunity to create a digital allowance for their children’s meals.

Lyn Rice, principal-in-charge
Astrid Lipka, associate
Anne-Rachel Schiffmann, designer