The Dining Hall will undergo a makeover starting next fall.
The campus’ project manager for the renovation, David Reeves (Design & Construction), explains that it will be a comprehensive renovation of the entire facility, with many new features. The interior will be reconfigured, and it will be “more student-centered and customer-friendly.”
For example, Reeves says, to get to the second floor dining area, you currently have to go to the center of the building, go through doors, and climb the circular stairs. “It poses a staging problem.” With the renovation, there will be two new access points to the second floor. As you enter from College Avenue, you will not have to go through the tunnel (though you can). There will be stairs there, leading to the dining floor. In addition, there will be stairs as you enter from the west side.
On the second floor, the concept of one large cafeteria will be replaced by “a lot more dining venues – perhaps 11, [presenting] a lot of choices.”
The project is primarily intended to modernize the service points in the cafeteria to continue to allow for high-volume food service while improving the customer experience, according to Reade Taylor, vice chancellor for business affairs. It is also intended to maximize the use of retail and administrative space and update internal mechanical systems and American Disabilities Act (ADA) access issues.
Jeff Huberman, principal architect, spoke and presented renderings at the Sept. 16 Board of Trustees meeting. He said the Dining Hall, adjacent to the Fountain area, “truly is the center of campus, a nexus.”
Gantt Huberman Architects were selected in February 2009 to be the architects of the Dining Hall renovation.
Construction of the oldest parts of the Dining Hall began in 1906, Huberman noted. Some construction was much more recent.
As part of the renovation, the large white “birdcage” currently adorning the West entrance of the Dining Hall will be removed. It was created in 1985.
The new west entrance will feature a large archway and also a glass canopy. (See visual.)
Also, the topography will be raised in front of the building, Huberman explained.
He spoke of the brick and banding. “We want to make it look as compatible as possible with the rest of the campus.”
Much of the side facing the Fountain will be glass. Some seating is expected outside, on the entrance floor. And balconies, with seating, can be enjoyed on the second floor. The balconies will be open.
The idea is “to bring more guests in the space and improve [their] experience,” Huberman said.
Entryways to a food store and convenience store are planned for the front as well, drawing students even when the dining hall is not serving.
Trustee Richard “Skip” Moore addressed his fellow trustees, after Huberman spoke. “A lot is terrific,” he said, but he presented several concerns about the design. Most notably, he was opposed to the west entrance’s archway, calling it “overly modernistic.” After hearing his concerns as well as statements from other board members, the board took a “field trip” to the site, accompanied by staff and Huberman.
When they returned, Chair Randall Kaplan suggested each member express their views about the design.
Kate Barrett said, “I like contemporary things facing traditional things. I think the students will love it.”
Carolyn Ferree said, “I think students will be drawn to it. I love it.”
William Pratt said, “I particularly like the balconies.”
After the trustees and the chancellor spoke, the trustees voted. The exterior design was approved.
The project budget is $31.5 million. It will be paid for over time by a portion of the students’ meal plan fees, says Reeves.
Renovation is scheduled to begin in Fall 2011, though work to enhance storm drainage capacity may begin next summer. The entire project is scheduled to last 24 months, with some parts completed before others.
The Dining Hall will remain open during renovation.
Visual: Plans for the west side of the Dining Hall. The Fountain is out of frame, to the right.
By Mike Harris
Visual courtesy Design & Construction