The 3,500 SF Kitchen House is an experiential learning hub meant to give students a space to learn about growing and preparing healthy food. The garden out front has been in operation on the site for a couple of years already, giving students at the Orlando Junior Academy a space to see the processes involved in food production. Students have been involved with the construction process as well, learning along the way.
Kevin Fonzo of nearby College Park-staple K Restaurant has been hosting an ongoing food education program through the OJA since its inception. Fonzo leveraged his growing connection with Lagasse to introduce the school and the garden to him, after which Lagasse decided to donate $400,000 to create an actual education center, via his Emeril Lagasse Foundation (Website). Florida Hospital then matched that grant.
The Kitchen Hall will be LEED Certified and feature a series of water catchments, energy efficient appliances, passive solar heating design, and more and was designed in collaboration with Midtown Architecture Studio and HuntonBrady Architects. Other features of the building include a lecture-style classroom kitchen, rentable event space, a theater-style ambulatory above the classroom, and office space. The stairs leading to the garden were designed to double as make-shift amphitheater seating as well, for outdoor classes in the garden.
The project was originally expected to be completed in November but has shifted to be finished sometime during the first quarter of 2017.