University of Houston Spec’s Beverage and Food Appreciation Lab at Conrad Hilton College


The Wine Lab’s 2,840 SF renovation converted a demonstration kitchen and studio into an updated, high-end tasting lab. Maintaining the original kitchen, a tiered lecture area and tasting lab was created. The new space, named the Spec’s Beverage and Food Appreciation Lab, can now be used to evaluate wine and other distilled spirits. The design opened the corridor wall to include multiple large windows, letting natural light into the room as well as bringing attention to its activities. The materiality of the renovation is textural by accenting the entry walls to resemble crushed paper and distinguishing the space from surrounding rooms. Within the classroom, sinks and specialty lighting were added at desk locations to be used to study and sample beverages. The center of the room’s seating was kept open to permit the lecturer to walk into the rows giving him or her ample room at the front while inviting more interactive participation. Benches highlight two areas: one in the hallway and the other in the back of the room. This creates a more relaxed atmosphere in the classroom and provides additional, more informal seating for larger events.