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Cunniffe Commons Environmental Branding and Signage

Ringling College of Art and Design
Designed as an urban food hall, Cunniffe Commons taps into the eclectic and creative spirit of the community.
The main dining hall within Ringling College's Cunniffe Commons
Sarasota, Florida
27,940 GSF

Cunniffe Commons at Ringling College of Art and Design provides a modern dining experience for a small, but diverse student body. Serving as a community hub and a primary destination on campus, the dining hall features bold design, nourishing all aspects of the creative student.

The Commons features nine unique dining platforms, each with their own distinct brand. The nine branded environments work together to create an atmosphere of diversity, choice, and experimentation.

Designed in tandem with the building, Cunniffe Commons’ experiential branding draws inspiration from an urban food hall to deliver an environment that resonates with the highly creative campus community. The naming and identity strategies for each of the nine platforms are the result of numerous visioning sessions with building designers and users, interviews with students and staff, menu reviews, and exploration of student artwork.

Seven menu-specific stations have one-word names that speak to food offerings and aesthetic vision:

  • Nourish, a fresh salad bar with homemade soups
  • Comfort, a home-cooked hot bar and plant-based platform serving vegan and vegetarian cuisine
  • Pure, an allergen-free station
  • Slice, an Italian station serving a variety of pizzas, pastas, and featured specials
  • Stack, a made-to-order deli station
  • Treat, offering assorted bakery items and fruits
  • Hydrate, offering a variety of beverages.

Two menu-variable platforms reflect their changing programs: Global Grill, a chef-attended action station, preparing a rotating selection of meals to order; and Food Lab, a teaching kitchen that supports both private and large cooking demonstrations. Market, a bar-code themed cafe, offers coffee and quick-service food offerings to go.

Each platform’s unique identity is inspired by the college’s brand, which is continuously evolving to adapt to a diverse range of student art. Similarly, each dining platform has a unique palette of colors, typography, and textures. A mixture of materials is used in a variety of scales, finishes, and forms to reflect the broad range of artistic mediums used by students. Several platforms leave space where student artwork can be displayed.

Since opening in January 2023, Cunniffe Commons has quickly become a central part of life at Ringling College of Art and Design, with student surveys identifying its atmosphere as a key component of its success. The dining hall’s environment, realized through thoughtful collaboration and design, fosters creative energy and a spirit of expression for the Ringling community.

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Cunniffe Commons

Ringling College of Art and Design
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