Conceived of as the new social centerpiece of the freshman housing community, the Segundo Commons is a prominent and inviting destination. The 850-seat dining facility offers the latest in food service platform delivery systems, a cook/chill production kitchen, and bold, enduring architecture. The circular entrance court on the building's north side creates a literal center for the Segundo area, while also serving as the building's main organizing principle. The building, clad in stone, precast concrete, and glass, follows this powerful curve, intensifying it with dramatic volumes and varied heights. The major existing bike path is relocated south of the building to allow uninterrupted pedestrian connections between the commons and the residence halls, strengthening the unity of the Segundo community.
The building's exterior massing directly expresses the major interior volumes. The 20,000-square-foot dining area is composed of comfortably-scaled spaces of varying volumes and heights that admit generous natural light from windows, curtain walls, and clerestories, and provide a variety of dining experiences. Taking advantage of the north orientation, the main dining room features a sheer wall of glass, blurring the line between inside and out, while promoting the concept of dining as theatre. The interior is arranged as a series of streets and squares—dining areas are activated by the various food service platforms. The food service platform program promotes variety and choice, objectives mirrored by the different interior spaces. Volumes are manipulated to create hierarchy and views are carefully crafted. The large, unobstructed kitchen area allows for maximum program flexibility.
The building's material palette emphasizes natural finishes. Exposed wood structure and ceilings, walls of precast concrete and stone, and clear glass reinforce the indoor-outdoor relationship implied by the siting strategy. Color hues and values are intensified at the serving platforms, where the food is highlighted against a backdrop of mosaic tile walls.
A circular entry courtyard forms a distinct point of arrival and the community's center. Though programmatic concerns dictated a single story building, the massing around the court describes a two-story volume—befitting its civic presence. The building's height and massing acknowledge and relate to the existing neighboring buildings and landscape elements. UC Davis is one of the most bicycle-friendly universities in California, due its flat Central Valley topography and temperate climate. The Segundo Commons sits alongside one of campus's bike paths and the building's sweeping curve is animated by the hundreds of bicycles whizzing by on an hourly basis.