Turning a Dining Hall Into a True Multi-Purpose Space
Founded in 1810, The Lawrenceville School is a coeducational, college preparatory boarding school located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Tasked with reimagining the school’s 1960s-era Abbott Dining Hall, Sennah Loftus and Daniela Holt, Voith of Voith & Mactavish Architects (VMA) sought to impart modern flexibility while honoring the classic aesthetic of the Peabody and Stearns architecture of the surrounding campus.
Just like many institutions, Lawrenceville realized that the function of grand halls is changing, and they wanted the ability to repurpose the Abbott Dining Hall for uses in addition to meal service. Loftus and Voith conceived of a space with furnishings that could be easily moved and removed. The need for furniture built with these custom specifications led the team to Thos. Moser.
Born from necessity: The Flip-Top Table
VMA wished to incorporate dining tables that had a solid feeling and a look of permanence but that could be easily reconfigured. Voith engaged with Thos. Moser’s product design team in a collaborative and iterative process that began with the consideration of tables with removable tops. This approach was quickly abandoned as cumbersome and the focus evolved to the conversion of an existing Trestle Table to accommodate a flip-top.
Voith liked the bones of the standard Thos. Moser trestle design but, seeking additional ornamentation that was consistent with the space, she worked hand-in-hand with the designers and craftsmen at Thos. Moser’s workshop in Auburn Maine, donning safety glasses while constructing a foot profile that felt right. The resulting flip-top design, with incorporated hardware that includes a high-quality piano hinge, allows for rapid room reconfiguration and high-density nesting of the tables requiring minimal storage space. Thos. Moser even provided specially designed transport dollies to make table reconfiguration safe and easy for school personnel.
Daniela Voith recalls, “The Thos. Moser team was terrific bringing their skill, experience, and fabrication techniques to bear on the prototyping process. They were fun and flexible, doing the iterations and coming up with a product that resonates with historical spaces and functions in a modern way. The combination of the flip-top and the skateboards to slip under the trestles make it possible for one person to easily move a long wooden table.”
At Thos. Moser we liked the resulting product so much we decided to make it a part of our regular contract lineup. When it came time for a name we chose the obvious – The Daniela.