St. F.X. University Morrison Hall Renovations

Trifos Design Consultants was commissioned to prepare a feasibility and assessment study for the renovation of Morrison Hall, St. Francis Xavier University’s primary food-service facility, located in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The Study revealed that Morrison Hall is a significant and irreplaceable architectural edifice, symbolic of St. Francis Xavier’s rich heritage and distinctive architectural traditions. Site inspections disclosed that Morrison Hall’s basic architectural and structural systems are intact, and not experiencing major decay or disintegration. However, an assessment of the existing building’s engineering infrastructure revealed that most of the systems have far surpassed their life expectancy.

The results of the Morrison Hall building assessment served to form the basic organizing theme for the subsequent preparation of a concept design and renovation contract documents. Floor-plan schematics prepared by Trifos Design Consultants were presented to the Food-Services Liaison Committee, addressing the issues of life-safety, exiting, fire-separation, accessibility, washroom fixturing, servery expansion, and functional food-service layout. In keeping with the classical architecture of the dining hall, a simple, historically-themed interior-design treatment was proposed; addressing issues of acoustics, food presentation, multimedia/imaging information systems, and furnishings. The new layout for Morrison Hall will eliminate the mixed-use occupancy on the main floor. Due to space restrictions and fire-separation considerations, all office occupancy types have been removed, and the entire main floor has been dedicated to food service and ancillary functions. The bakery/pastry shop and dishwashing functions have been brought to this level, and the servery area has been expanded to a Marché-style, scatter-type system. The Marché concept is to feature open-display cooking, with flexible menu choices within a variety of presentation formats. A second dining room has been added, as well as new washrooms, in the current southwest end of the floor plan. Other additions include a barrier-free platform lift, a new servery in the priests' dining room, a relocated cooking-bank and range-hood system, new fire stairwells, etc.

The main dining hall is the architectural focal point of the entire building. This grand hall features a 20-foot high ceiling, framed with Greek ionic columns; ornamental, dentil-toothed beam friezes; and arched-framed, multi-paned windows. The space evokes a sense of antiquity, grandeur, and formality. Painted plaster finishes predominate through the walls and ceiling. Flooring is comprised of epoxy-matrix terrazzo.

The proposed interior-design treatments for Morrison Hall strive to revitalize and enhance the historic, classical theme of the original, architectural, interior design. The ornamental language of the column and beam treatments serve as a source of design inspiration in the treatment of the dining hall, semi-private dining rooms, the servery, and public washroom treatments. The proposed, new, decorative elements would be interpreted in tastefully-executed, current, “post-modern” treatment, incorporating numerous contemporary moulding features and fixtures. Excessive ornamentalism would be avoided, so as not to create a gaudy, theatrical expression.

Proposed renovation works for the main dining hall would include refurbishment of the existing terrazzo floors, decorative repainting of columns and friezes, and installation of acoustic-fabric insulation panels on ceiling trays and walls. Equipment installations would include new tables, chairs, and waste/condiment stations; 15-foot high trees; and a suspended, video-cube, wall, multimedia, information system. the underside of the plaster beams are to receive a decorative, fabric, drape/swag treatment (inherently flame retardant), with short-tier cascade ends. The primary purpose of the trees and swag treatment is to introduce softness and texture, as well as to acoustically dampen noise reverberation. These decorative treatments would also serve to juxtapose the existing, spartan aesthetics of the classical, ionic treatments.

The main-floor servery areas would receive custom design treatments consisting of bright-glazed, ceramic-tile patterned walls; decorative, mosaic, floor-tile treatment (borders, patterns, etc.); colour-accented, equipment fascia panels; tray rails; and decorative, ceiling/bulkhead treatments, incorporating signage bulkheads.