View of main atrium and dining hall
Banquette seating viewed across dining hall
View of secondary dining hall on elevated level
Informal bar seating on elevated level

Centennial College Cafeteria

Under tight budget considerations and a significant need to revitalize their aging campus cafeteria, Centennial College retained Kearns Mancini to develop a material palette, furniture selection, flooring and lighting strategy that would maximize the client's budget and bring the space into the 21st century.

A pressing concern for the design of the cafeteria was the lack of coherent circulation and way-finding through the space, resulting in congested circulation. In response, Kearns Mancini developed a phased vision for the revitalization of the cafeteria that would simplify circulation, beginning with the immediate interior renovation and reorganization of the existing space. Phase 2 of the renovation, currently underway, will take full advantage of the southern exposure and natural landscape beyond, as well as providing for additional informal seating for students, while increasing the functionality of the space.

Banquette seating

Phase 1 of the renovation, which was completed in September 2013, has introduced colourful banquettes and bar seating, to increase the capacity of the space and to encourage informal student interaction. The furniture was carefully chosen and laid out to have the dual purposes of seating and space-making, creating varied dining options and defining the new circulation routes. The colour scheme and material palette of the furnishings serve as punctuation against the austere concrete of the original building.

Both phases of the project were managed to be constructed when student impacts are its lowest, during the summer months. Additionally, Kearns Mancini sought to keep the University abreast of each landmark on the project, from Design Development through to Post-Occupancy, by meeting at regular intervals. During these meetings, feedback from the client was used to steer the project toward the client's expectations.


939 Progress Avenue, Toronto, Ontario

Completed, 2013

Building Size
7,613 sq. ft.

Project Value

Centennial College

Doublespace Photography

Project Team
Jonathan Kearns, Tan Duong, Alice Gibson

Main seating area

With the completion of the second phase of the project, Kearns Mancini will have achieved its goal to bring colour, natural light and transparency to the cafeteria, serving as an emblem for the vibrant academic life at the heart of the university.

The resulting space provided for an environment that is warm and inviting to student interaction - a space which serves as a social hub for the campus, while reflecting the University's goals for plurality and dynamism in their built environment.

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