Part of the mission of Vistamar School in El Segundo is to balance rigorous academics with an intimate atmosphere that supports students with meaningful relationships. A recent addition to the campus is furthering that goal. The Viking Commons, a new commercial kitchen and gathering space, was opened at Vistamar in August. Located in the newest section of the building, the eatery provides a nutritious lunch daily for the entire school community.
The innovative communal space has expanded the ways that Vistamar’s students, faculty and staff can connect. Emphasizing the school’s commitment to building community, the Viking Commons provides a venue for the entire school community to gather during lunch each day. The daily block class schedule allows everyone to have lunch at the same time, making it easy for students, faculty and staff to enjoy each other’s company and meet informally over a great meal.
“We’ve removed the stress of having to figure out what to do about lunch every day and instead provide an array of healthful food options at no added daily charge in a beautiful space to meet.”
“The Viking Commons provides an important way for everyone in our school community to come together over a great equalizer: food,” says head of school Chris Bright. “We’ve removed the stress of having to figure out what to do about lunch every day and instead provide an array of healthful food options at no added daily charge in a beautiful space to meet.”
A healthy and balanced life is one of Vistamar’s core values—one that the Viking Commons supports with healthful, nutritious and delicious lunches prepared from scratch daily. The food service partner takes a “wellness-first” approach, providing custom menus that offer great flavor and variety and support local, sustainable agricultural practices.
Hot entrees, a sandwich bar, and a salad and soup bar are available daily. Allergens are noted on the menus, and options for those with allergy sensitivities or special diets are offered including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
The design of the Viking Commons was a collaborative process. Originally envisioned by school leadership and the board of trustees, the yearlong design and fundraising process incorporated the work of trustees, staff, parents and the architect.
The vision was to transform an office area and small commons area into an open-plan, state-of-the-art kitchen, servery and inviting space to gather. Care was taken to echo the innovative open-space design of the school and reinforce the commitment to best practices in education. The Viking Commons was built through the generosity of the Vistamar extended community, working together to fund construction entirely through donations.
“As a school committed to best practices in education, our campus design deliberately supports the dynamic needs of the community. The Viking Commons is one of our most dramatic building upgrades since the school was founded,” says Kris Rone, chair of Vistamar’s board of trustees and an alumni parent.
Founded in 2005, Vistamar is an independent college preparatory day school serving grades 9–12. The founders’ vision was to tap into the diversity of Los Angeles to bring together students who could learn from each other the skills and attitudes necessary for global citizenship. Vistamar believes there’s a better way to do high school—a conviction they are sharing at lunchtime every day at the Viking Commons.