Current Editor: Cynthia D. Bertelsen
|Issue 7||Winter 2005|
Center for Real Life Kitchen Design
by JoAnn Emmel
The Center for Real Life Kitchen Design, which opened in the fall of 1998, is a collaborative effort of Virginia Tech and the kitchen industry. The Center is located in Wallace Hall on the Virginia Tech campus, and is the only facility of its type known to exist in the nation. Faculty members associated with the Center include: Dr. Julia Beamish, Dr. JoAnn Emmel, and Dr. Kathleen Parrott. Dr. Beamish and Dr. Parrott are Certified Kitchen Educators.
The Center contains five fully operational and very different kitchens. These kitchens represent various price levels and space designs, and they also reflect the diversity of today's families. Included are a gourmet look kitchen, a contemporary kitchen, a family kitchen, a small starter kitchen, and a universal design kitchen. The universal design kitchen illustrates how a kitchen may accommodate all family members with their varying abilities, including young children, the elderly, and the disabled. A classroom, a laundry area, and a home office make up the other spaces in the Center.
The activities of the Center involve all three missions of the university - teaching, outreach and research.
- Teaching: Classes held in the Center that support the Housing major include home equipment, universal design, and kitchen and bath design. This space is the ideal environment to learn about kitchens - kitchen design, materials, equipment and functionality.
- Outreach: In addition to tours that are often given of the Center, the faculty of the Center have been conducting a very popular workshop, called "Explore your Dream Kitchen", for the past four years. This workshop, typically held in the Spring, attracts people from a wide area of the nation. Articles featuring the workshop were published in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. During the two-day workshop, participants learn about every aspect of kitchen design, materials and equipment, as well as prepare a meal using the kitchens.
- Research: The Center's faculty have conducted two major research projects in the Center, both funded by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. The first project consisted of both a local sample and a national sample. The local sample completed a survey and prepared a sample menu in the Center. The cooking activities were videotaped. The national sample also completed a survey. Both surveys asked questions about how households used their kitchens. The second project consisted of conducting kitchen inventories to see what household kept in their kitchens. These results were used to update the kitchen design guidelines used by the kitchen industry. The research results have been presented at numerous conferences, published in academic journals, and featured in popular magazines.
More information about the Center for Real Life Kitchen Design can be found on the Center's website, http://www.ahrm.vt.edu/housing/crlkd/index.htm. Tours of the Center are available upon request. Contact JoAnn Emmel at 540-231-9259.