Mary Graydon Center Dining Hall at American University selected for American School & University Magazine Architectural Portfolio

Winstanley Architects & Planners is pleased to announce that American School and University Magazine (ASU) has chosen American University’s Mary Graydon Center Dining Hall in Washington, DC as the recipient of the Outstanding Design Award in the 2018 American School & University Architectural Portfolio — the premier showcase celebrating the best in education design. This is our second time being selected for an Outstanding Design Award and our fourth award from American School and University Magazine.

The Mary Graydon Center is the main dining hall for students, faculty, and staff at American University. This 1928 building is the location of the 14,750 SF, 675 seat basement dining venue. The design team was faced with the daunting task of improving this basement space which had no windows, no daylight and a “forest” of clumsy columns scattered throughout the floor plate.

Our solution used the forest of columns to create just that: a forest. By using original photography commissioned for the project, the design team mapped non-repeating images of trees on the columns to visually dissipate the solidity of the column mass. Organized along a central spine, the serving stations satisfy the various culinary offerings by the Food Service Provider and allow the diners to meander through the space. The color palette in the spine is designed to reflect more naturalist colors of stone and sky. The balance of the space is finished in wood tones, and the serving stations have off-white counters and stainless-steel fixtures to present a bright and light environment to showcase the food.

Winstanley Architects & Planners is an architecture, planning, and interior design firm located in a renovated warehouse in Old Town, Alexandria. Recent assignments include the Residence Hall and Student Center at Woodberry Forest School in Woodberry Forest, VA, the restoration of St. Agnes School in Arlington, VA, and the Stone Ridge School Field and Entrance in Bethesda, Maryland.


The firm is also a registered small business enterprise.


Photography by Jessica Marcotte Photography.


Further information on the firm can be found at the company’s website or by contacting Geri Houston at 703-519-8081 or