Aetna Dining Facility Renovation


  • Phased construction to allow continuous dining service
  • 13,500 Square Foot Kitchen
  • 14,500 Square Foot Servery
  • Digital Displays
  • Marché cooking

Owner: Aetna
Type: Renovation of Dining Facility
Location: Hartford, CT
Area: 65,000 Square Feet
Completion: 2010

The Project:

This new kitchen and cafeteria was built within the footprint of the previous facility and was constructed in phases so that food service could continue uninterrupted.  The 65,000 square foot facility includes a 13,500 square foot kitchen and a 14,500 square foot servery.  Although the 37,000 square foot dining area needed to accommodate 1,500 guests, it was designed as a series of smaller, more intimate spaces to provide a restaurant-like experience.

The CHK Team worked closely with FLIK, Aetna’s Foodservice Provider, to research other venues that matched the scale of the Aetna’s proposed new facility. Through this collaborative effort we were able to create a new state-of-the-art dining facility which met the owner’s objectives, while incorporating flexibility into FLIK’s Foodservice delivery model.  To support Aetna’s “Wellness Works” initiative, the Design Team incorporated digital displays into the servery to provide nutritional information as well as menu descriptions and pricing.

Although Aetna’s Rogers Building displays a colonial styled exterior, many of the interior details are more closely related to the Art Deco Era of the building’s construction period.  In keeping with this theme, many details for the new corporate dining facility were borrowed from the Art Deco Period.  This can be seen in the Atrium entrance to the servery in the detailing of the Marque element.  The effective use of digital signage for the display of menu and nutritional information throughout the servery was an important goal for the owner, and it became a signature feature of the servery design. 

The development of this dining facility allowed for the construction of an important central circulation artery which would connect the two main centers of employee population within the building.  The variety of seating environments provided in the dining room include table seating, booth seating and bar height seating at high tops.  Shown here is a series of large booths in a niche along the main circulation corridor, which is accented by a line of custom designed pendant fixtures. 

The 14,500 square foot servery was designed for marché cooking that would allow the customer to watch the preparation of their menu choice while they waited.  A number of different specialty “stations” were created, including this “Italian Station” with a wood-fired pizza oven.   Custom built sneeze guards were designed to illuminate and heat the food as required and to allow for the display of seasonal offerings.

Highly durable and easily maintained finish materials were used throughout the kitchen and servery, including terrazzo and resinous floors, ceramic tile millwork fronts and stainless-steel millwork cases.  Specialty lighting was used to illuminate all of the vertical surfaces throughout the servery, including the fronts of the serving pieces, the angled soffits, the columns and the decorative hood enclosures.

The character of this dining room space was changed entirely with the replacement of the Kalwall skylight panels, the introduction of the stepped gypsum board soffits, the cherry dining booths and the custom fabricated pendant fixtures.  The dining booths with their integral privacy screens are effective in subdividing the large space into a series of smaller, more intimate dining areas.

In addition to the servery, the full-service production kitchen for this facility also needed to support a very large catering function for the training center, the customer center, the executive area and numerous conference rooms. 

The CHK Design Team was awarded a “Crew CT” Blue Ribbon Award for Best Interior Design Project for their work on this facility. The new Aetna Dining Facility was completed in two phases and became fully operational in February, 2010.