This year the annual DesignColumbus expo has a chance to showcase one of our city’s newest architectural gems: Mitchell Hall, located on the Columbus State Community College campus. The new building houses the college’s School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts.
Opened in Fall 2019, the three-story, 80,000-square-foot building features teaching kitchens and labs, a teaching restaurant, a student-staffed bakery, a 100-seat culinary theater, a 400 seat conferencing space, classrooms and other support spaces, according to the architecture firm DesignGroup. The facility can accommodate nearly double the enrollment that was possible with its previous housing, bringing its capacity up to 1,500 culinary students.
“Despite the fact that our culinary program is top in the state—and in the top 20 in the country—we were using rooms in a basement of a 40-year-old building,” said Chef James Taylor, Department Chair of Hospitality Programs, Columbus State Community College.
The building is named after Cameron Mitchell of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (CMR). Mitchell was instrumental in funding the facility, providing a $2.5 million gift. A press release from CMR states, “The $34.5 million project is funded by $10 million from the state, $10 million in private philanthropy and $14.5 million from the college, and is complemented by more than $7 million in streetscape improvements funded by the city of Columbus.”
The Primary Mission: Education
Columbus State’s degree offerings have expanded and now include Beverage and Mixology, Culinary Arts, Hotel Administration, Hotel Management, and Sommelier—helping the hospitality industry fill a projected 13 percent job growth over the next seven years.
In addition to classroom activities, culinary students gain real-world experience. Each educational degree requires working a weekly shift either at Degrees (the professionally managed, student-staffed 90-seat restaurant and bar) or Blend, a cafe/bakery that seats 30. Mitchell Hall’s architecture makes the restaurant a unique learning environment: Degrees features a smoked glass wall that shields diners from excess light while allowing them to see food preparation in progress, acclimating the student staff to the high-pressure environment of a working restaurant.
The design of educational spaces was equally well thought out. Features include overhead monitors that show closeups of instructor demonstrations, conveniences such as common sculleries for laboratories, tables in mixology labs that are outfitted with under-table lighting for candling the wine, and more.
A Community Asset
Mitchell Hall gives culinary and hospitality students an opportunity to interact directly with the broader student body; students from any Columbus State program are encouraged to spend time in the new facility.
“We have nooks and seating all over the building, open to all Columbus State students. I run into kids all the time that have just discovered our space, and I always tell them they are welcome—we’re glad they’re there!” said Taylor.
Columbus State intends for Mitchell Hall to be a catalyst for its growing campus and the neighborhood it shares with the Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) and The Columbus Museum of Art. This area is the Creative Campus portion of the larger Discovery District, which is rich in the arts as well as educational and recreational opportunities. The Discovery District has been a special improvement district since 2007.
Columbus State programs have been created to reach out to the public. For example, a recreational cooking class series called “The Mix” does not require enrollment in a degree program. Innovation kitchens—with professional assistance offered—are available for a small fee to help individuals perfect their own recipes.
“We host everything from high school groups and restaurant association events to private parties,” said Taylor. In November, we teamed with the fundraiser Fry Out Cancer and prepared 65 turkeys in Mitchell Hall ovens, with almost 100 more prepared in outside fryers, and raised $30,000. Having Mitchell Hall will enable us to continue to participate at this level—a real benefit to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, who receives the funds. We were also able to increase our involvement in SkillsUSA Championships, moving beyond judging and organizing to now hosting the baking event.”
Columbus State’s culinary program also participates, pro bono, in many community enrichment endeavors. For example, partnering with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, nutrition classes are held on campus that help people learn how to prepare the food they receive from the foodbank.
DesignColumbus 2020 offers a chance for the local design community to experience Mitchell Hall for themselves—while attending education sessions delivered by area experts and earning professional continuing education units. The event will be held on Monday, March 9, 2020 from 7:00 a.m.to 6:30 p.m. Parking for the event is free. To learn more, visit https://designcolumbus.org/event/#location.
“We’re excited to continue our relationship with Columbus State Community College, who has been an active participant in DesignColumbus for years. We’re also looking forward to sharing this new architectural asset with the wider Central Ohio design community,” said Jim McDonald, Co-Chair of the DesignColumbus Planning Committee.