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Hard Hat Tour: Columbus State’s Mitchell Hall

Brent Warren Brent Warren Hard Hat Tour: Columbus State’s Mitchell HallMitchell Hall. All photos by Brent Warren.
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The dedication ceremony for Columbus State Community College’s newest building is scheduled for August 12, two weeks before the start of fall semester.

The three-story, 80,000-square-foot Mitchell Hall – located at 250 Cleveland Ave. – was a hub of activity during a recent hard hat tour, as workers loaded in equipment and put the finishing touches on the building’s interior.

The team behind the fundraising, design and construction of the building have high hopes that it will take the college’s Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts program to the next level. They also envision it serving as a new, central gathering place for both Columbus State students and the larger Columbus community.

“It’s just tremendous, what this building is going to be,” said Cameron Mitchell, the building’s namesake and lead donor, describing it as a “jewel of the community (that will) put Columbus State on the map.”

Although Mitchell himself attended the prestigious (and expensive) Culinary Institute of America, he said he recognizes that a school like that is out of reach for most students. He believes that the revitalized program at Columbus State – with its new, state of the art facility – has the potential to provide a similar level of training for a much wider range of students.

“We think – and what I want to achieve here really – is that you can get 80 to 90 percent of the education of the CIA for ten percent of the cost,” he said.

“The exciting thing, for all of us who have been involved,” added architect Michael Bongiorno, “is the idea that you are helping students create pathways to success, in good jobs in the culinary and hospitality industry… helping them become entrepreneurs and possibly hang their own shingle some day, the same way that Cameron has.”

“The food scene is really something here, and it’s only going to get better with this facility,” said Jim Taylor, Department Chair for Hospitality Programs at Columbus State, who also pointed out that a quarter of the country’s work force is employed in the hospitality industry.

Also noted by many on the tour was the impact the new building will have on its immediate surroundings.

“This facility is going to catalyze a lot of other things along the Cleveland Avenue corridor and in the creative campus district,” said Bongiorno. “It’s just the first of many public-private partnerships that’ll happen.”

Cameron Mitchell (right) speaks to the group. At left is Joshua Wickham, Director of Operations of the School of Hospitality Management and in the center is architect Michael Bongiorno of DesignGroup.
A restaurant will fill this space. It will be called Degrees and is scheduled to open to the public on October 23.
Central atrium and gathering space.
A skylight provides natural light.
Another view of the skylight.
The building features views of Downtown, something that is lacking in the program’s current home in the basement of Eibling Hall.
The 100-seat culinary theater.
A view of the demonstration kitchen in the culinary theater.
Windows look out onto Cleveland Avenue. A city-led streetscape improvement project will include the burial of power lines along the street.
This bar/mixology lab will be used for teaching, although the space, like many others in the building, will also be available to rent out for private events.
One of the building’s teaching kitchens.
The rear of the building. A outdoor training kitchen will be located under the overhanging portion at right.
A cafe and bakery, to be called Blend, will be located in this first floor space. The business will open to the public on September 26.
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