The 15 Best-Designed University Dining Halls Around the World incl. UK


You’ll want to spend more than just meal times in these stunning spaces.


Sitting down for a meal with classmates and friends is one of the most simple yet underrated pleasures of collegiate life. Fueling up on delicious food (that you didn’t have to make) is the perfect reprieve from tests and projects, and one of the best ways to ensure your mind stays sharp during all the studying you’re doing throughout the semester. And with so much of the day structured around meal times, it’s no surprise that a food scene can make or break the college experience.


While many college students are more considered with the quality of the food at the cafeteria, here at AD, we’re much more curious about the spaces themselves. That’s why we’ve pulled together the most beautiful dining halls across the world—many of which look like they belong in palaces instead of college campuses. Curious if your alma mater made the list? Check out the 14 best-designed university dining halls below.



Flagler College (St. Augustine, Florida)

The longest continually inhabited European-founded city in the U.S., St. Augustine, Florida, is overflowing with Spanish-, French-, and English-style architecture. In 1888, Standard Oil cofounder Henry M. Flagler built a massive luxury hotel in the area, the Ponce de Leon Hotel, which attracted guests such as Presidents Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and Mark Twain. In 1968, the storied hotel was transformed into the newly established Flagler College, which explains why the school has such an ornate dining room.



Pomona College (Claremont, California)

The first thing you’ll notice when entering Frary Dining Hall at Pomona College is a large fresco of Prometheus on the far wall. Painted by Jose Clemente Orozco, a Mexican muralist, the painting depicts a naked man appearing to hold up the room’s arched ceiling.



University of Cambridge (Cambridge, United Kingdom)

Though there are other dining halls at Cambridge University that are easily up to par with palatial grandeur, this option in the Central Building at Churchill College is a spectacular modernist take on a school cafeteria. Designed by Sheppard Robson and Partners in the ’60s, this building was the first modernist building in Cambridge and inspired a change in the appearance of other higher education institutions throughout the area.



Christ Church College (Oxford, United Kingdom)

Among many architecturally important buildings at Christ Church College—like Tom Tower or Christ Church Cathedral—the Great Dining Hall has a particularly interesting history. During the English Civil War, the hall was used as the seat of the parliament that King Charles I assembled at the time.



Cornell University (Ithaca, New York)

All the way across the pond in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University modeled this dining hall after the Christ Church dining hall, calling their version Risley Dining Room. You’ll notice many similar design elements, including circle top windows and the dark wood trusses.



University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

Cathey Dining Hall on UChicago’s south campus features many incredible architectural details including dark wood ceilings with bold trusses,  candle style chandeliers, and wood wainscoting.



Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

Though Yale has many beautiful dining halls (each of its 14 residential colleges has its own eating locale), the Commons Dining Hall is particularly stunning. The expansive space represents a communal location for all Yale personnel including undergraduate and graduate students in addition to faculty and staff.



Trinity College Dining Hall (Oxford, United Kingdom)

This dining hall at Trinity College could easily be mistaken for a royal banquet hall—especially with the pops of purple on the chairs. In addition to many of the remarkable aesthetic details—like the ornate molding—these facilities take pride in being as sustainable as possible by using many locally sourced ingredients. 



Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)

Cranbook Academy of Art is a graduate school devoted exclusively to art, architecture, craft, and design. Knowing that it comes as no surprise that the campus facilities are stunning. The school was founded by publishing tycoons George Gough Booth and Ellen Scripps Booth, who hired Eliel Saarinen, the father or Eero Saarinen, to design the facilities.



Ivey Business School (London, Ontario)

Part of the University of Western Ontario, the Ivey Business School building was designed by Hariri Pontarini Architects and completed in 2013. While this structure is undoubtedly modern, the rest of the campus showcases gothic creations. In order to both honor the heritage of the campus and lean into the present, the designers made use of timeless materials like stone, concrete, and glass when imagining the property.



Royal Naval College (London, UK)

Though the Royal Naval College is no longer an operating academy, it’s not hard to see why the historic property has been conserved as a cultural destination. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the English Baroque grounds originally housed a hospital before 1873, when the Royal Navy moved in.



St. Paul’s College, University of Sydney (Sydney, Australia)

Between gothic pointed windows and timbered ceilings, the dining hall at St. Paul’s College looks like it could be part of a European castle. Every Monday through Thursday, the college hosts a formal dinner, which all students are expected to attend, wearing a jacket, tie, and academic gown.



Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

The freshman dining hall at Harvard University, Annenberg Dining Hall certainly knows how to welcome new students to campus. Located within Memorial Hall, a High Victorian Gothic building, the communal eating space features magnificent wooden trusses and stained glass windows.



United States Military Academy (West Point, New York)

If the interiors of this Gothic-style dining hall at the United States Military Academy look a bit like a military fort, that’s because the institution was originally established as one. Made up of multiple Norman-style buildings, most of the structures on campus were built with gray and black granite.



Sewanee: The University of the South (Sewanee, Tennessee)

Featuring columns clad in stone, exposed beams, and floor-to-ceiling windows, McClurg Dining Hall at Sewanee is reminiscent of National Park Service rustic architecture. In addition to the picturesque building, the dining services team sources 80% of lettuces and greens from local farms.


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