By Gregory DiStefano and Miriam Weinstein '08 MBAA state-of-the-culinary-arts building is not only expanding Johnson & Wales University’s Harborside Campus in Providence, R.I., the construction of the country’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified culinary facility is also changing the scope of education. Construction teams plunged 100 piles 110 feet below the Earth’s surface, poured tons of cement, and toiled more than 70 feet above the ground to build what will be known as the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence (CCCE). The 82,000 square-foot building will soon become the new standard when its doors open in fall 2009.
To the eye, the impressive steel-beam structure speaks volumes about the evolution of the College of Culinary Arts (CCA) into one of the world’s largest and most preeminent culinary institutions. But the facility also represents a much deeper story about the growth of JWU into a strong and focused 21st-century university.
The original CCA opened in 1973 in a repurposed World War II-era building, with 100 students, one dining room, one hot and one cold kitchen and a bakeshop. That building, the David Friedman Center, remained in use all these years. “It was the first school to offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in the culinary arts, baking and pastry arts and even culinary nutrition,” says University President John Bowen ’77, himself dean of the CCA from 1983 to 1987. “But what set the college apart from the beginning was its adaptation of JWU’s unique educational model. We’ve always combined culinary skills with academics, as well as work experience, leadership opportunities and career development.”
Along the way, JWU has continued to set leadership standards. “We make sure our graduates are equipped with not just a superb culinary education, but that they have the critical thinking and business management skills to help advance their careers,” Bowen says.
When it became clear that the original building could no longer support an expanding, world-class curriculum, a vision for the new structure quickly emerged. At the onset of planning, Kevin Duffy ’82, ’08 M.A.T., dean of culinary education, asked for faculty input. Their experiences in labs and classrooms inspired the architects to create facilities that would meet fast-changing industry demands. The new labs will have twice as much space as the current ones, and half will have center islands, a detail that will alleviate having students with their backs to instructors. “Our faculty will take a lot of pride in the new building because they helped design it,” says Duffy.
Faculty envisioned culinary environments that reflect the latest trends in all aspects of the profession. Leading-edge equipment in a diverse array of commercial production spaces will support the most advanced curriculum, including JWU’s newest bachelor’s program — a degree that combines culinary arts with food service management.
“Our commitment to excellence has taken many shapes in recent years,” says Karl Guggenmos ’93, ’02 M.B.A., university dean of culinary education. “The College of Culinary Arts has enhanced its curriculum to reflect growing concerns over health, nutrition and artificial ingredients. Our ongoing partnerships with culinary pioneers help us — and them — pursue new directions in equipment, energy use, sustainable practices and career paths.” As one such example, JWU has partnered with ACH Oils to eliminate the use of artificial trans fats in its culinary and baking and pastry curricula, student dining services, and owned-and-operated hotels. As a result, chefs and culinary specialists trained at JWU will know evolving techniques to produce delicious but healthier food options.
“The new Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence will also help us achieve higher levels of food safety as well as sustainable food practices,” continues Guggenmos. With its state-of-the-art equipment, students and faculty will set new standards for food storage, preparation and handling — and help improve the industry.
The CCCE is the first academic building to be built from the ground up at the Providence Campus. With more than two million square feet of space located on more than 160 acres of property in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, JWU is recognized for its contribution to urban revitalization and historic renovation, winning the Providence Preservation Society’s 2004 Adaptive Reuse Award for its restoration of the DelSesto building.
From the Publisher Once again this year we are honored to learn that all four of our campuses were named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a university can attain for service learning and civic engagement. In this issue, we highlight some of the special projects and relationships that earned our campuses this designation for the third consecutive year.