Miss Porter’s Dining Hall: Serving Food for 400

Miss Porter’s Dining Hall: Serving Food for 400

The Dining Hall at Miss Porter’s School was built in 1831, when the first steam-powered railroad engine was launched. It had undergone many changes before O&G Industries was hired to renovate and expand the hall to accommodate 400 students and transform the space into a contemporary school dining hall. George Givens, a Project Superintendent at O&G Industries, shared these details of the project.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you had when O&G renovated Miss Porter’s Dining Hall?

GG: There were a lot of MEPs – that’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing – that ran through the building. Sprinkler piping, drinking water, security, emergency power, and primary power all had to be reconfigured. But we were able to relocate the main power generator and keep in online. That was a big challenge.

Q: Since it was built in 1831 it must have had many additions.

GG: Absolutely. We had to make sure all the windows were framed consistently so the sightlines were all even, – and not all the previous work was true to the original design and structure. In cases like this, you have to look at the existing work and create a plan that marries the old with the new in a way that feels natural.

Q: Can you share an example?

GG: Sure. We expanded the original seating area so all 400 students could have a sit-down dinner at the same time. But 400 students can make a lot of noise, so we used a special plaster in the ceiling that’s usually used in spaces like libraries and auditoriums, where you need good acoustics. And we used decorative cut daisies around the ceiling perimeter because the daisy is the school flower. Again, we just blended new elements into a historic space.

Q: What about the kitchen?

GG: The entire kitchen and serving areas were rebuilt and re-designed with the latest appliances and equipment. We were able to double the size of the servery, which made traffic flow during mealtimes a lot easier. Lots of times it’s open spaces where people can move easily that really make new construction functional.