Interior Design Students Propose Ideas for Relocating the Atrium Coffee Shop


Interior design students in the third-year studio taught by Associate Professors Matt Dunn and Jun Zou developed design solutions for relocating the Atrium Coffee Shop to a more suitable space within the Design Building.

Currently, the Atrium Coffee Shop is set up as a kiosk of unattached, portable refrigerators, coolers, counters, and stands arranged in a formless, ever-sprawling cluster, situated in the Design Building between the elevators and the entrance to the Commons. While popular, the coffee shop is an obstacle in the center of a major thoroughfare. Queues often block access to the Commons (a regular meeting place for large groups and classrooms), the restrooms, the stairs, and one of the four entrances to the Design Building.

The coffee shop currently attracts students, faculty, and staff within the Design Building as well as those from surrounding buildings and circulation paths on campus. As it is one of the few places to purchase coffee and food on the west side of campus, it has become a destination and meeting place used by a wide range of people.

The students were directed to study the problem and suggest possible design solutions for the relocation while developing their skills in the design and translation of everyday spaces. They were asked to document the existing Atrium Coffee Shop by creating a detailed floor plan and inventory list and by diagramming the existing circulation paths of the shop’s customers and employees.

Students were then charged to define a program for their designs and build models.




“The size and easily accessible site made this a great project for the design studio,” said Dunn. “Students were able to measure, take inventory, discuss issues of functionality with the coffee shop employees, and observe first-hand how the employees and public occupy and use the space. As patrons of the coffee shop themselves, the interior design students brought all of this research and analysis together to create a program and design that would best suit the needs of their fellow students, the kiosk employees, and the spatial requirements of the college and the Design Building,” he added.

In the end, the students agreed that the best solution was to move the coffee shop near the existing courtyard outside the Design Building. One of the favorite programs proposed a more substantial and permanent coffee shop—an “international arts café”—with circulation connecting the Design Building to the shop and the courtyard. The design suggested taking part of the Commons—space that isn’t used much by students, if at all—and part of the courtyard to create a larger meeting space and a completely separate area for customers and employees to congregate. The high walls around the courtyard would be lowered to create a more open and inviting meeting space, and customers would be welcome to congregate outside around tables and the ledges of the courtyard or inside, among the café tables in the atrium.

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The new space could potentially become a destination for not only the current users but for the entire student body on campus, drawing customers from other areas of the university to the arts center of the campus. Space could be provided for displaying student and faculty work, as well, and the Design Building could become the communications hub for art and design on campus.

About Matt Dunn
Matt Dunn is an associate professor in the School of Interior Design at Louisiana State University and has been teaching students at the College of Art + Design since 2003. Dunn holds a Bachelor of Architecture from LSU and a Master of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin, where he focused on design and theory. He was an intern architect at the Office of Community Design and Development at LSU, and is a certified LEED professional. Dunn has presented papers, publications, and lectures at national and regional conferences across the United States. He is currently the undergraduate coordinator for the School of Interior Design.

About Jun Zou
Jun Zou is an associate professor in the School of Interior Design and has been teaching at LSU since 2004. She received a BS and a Master of Architecture degree from Hunan University in China and a Master of Architecture degree in design and technology stream from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Jun’s research interests are in Eastern and Western architectural thinking, their aesthetics, and technologies and the inherited ecological philosophies; regional vernacular dwellings and the relationship with sustainable design; digital technologies in architectural/interior design and practice; and interior lighting simulation and technologies. She has presented her research at regional, national, and international conferences and published papers in peer-reviewed academic journals. She was awarded a faculty research grant in 2010–11, a Service Learning Faculty Scholars Award in 2009–10, and was the Ruth Z. McCoy Professor in Interior Design in 2008–09. 

About LSU School of Interior Design
The LSU School of Interior Design program emphasizes creative problem solving, research and analysis, and graphic skills. Student activities are supported in the design studios, which form the core of the educational experience. Liberal arts, business, communication, and technical courses are required and complement the program’s strong emphasis on design. For more information, visit

Angela Harwood
Communications Coordinator
LSU College of Art + Design
102 Design Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803