Beginning this August, University Food Services and Campus Planning, Design & Construction will break ground on a new dining hall that will serve the residents on the northeast side of campus.
On Tuesday, Jan. 26, the University Facilities Planning Board (UFPB) hosted an open forum to make a final decision on the site location proposal for the new dining hall. Originally, the board selected eight potential locations scattered around the north-eastern side of campus. Those eight locations were reduced to three: just west of Herrick Hall between Herrick and Hannon, directly north of the Jake Jabs School of Business and Entrepreneurship and directly north of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Building (CBB).
The open forum had a large turnout from community members and staff associated with the Child Development Center in Herrick Hall. They asked that the new dining hall not be placed by Herrick because of possible dangers associated with having large food trucks and increased traffic around the preschool-aged children. Other concerns were that the location to the north of Jake Jabs, if selected, would displace approximately 60 parking spaces, and the location next to the CBB would eliminate 40 parking spaces along with displacing the temporary chemistry labs already in place at that location.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the board decided to propose the location just north of the CBB to President Waded Cruzado. The board cited its low cost of site development and ease of access for food trucks as support for their decision. The board did recognize the inconvenience of relocating the labs in the temporary lab units and wants to help find a new space for the labs if this location is approved.
The new dining hall would be approximately 30,000 square feet with seating for about 700 students. For those concerned about the potential for obstructed views of Montana Hall, the design of the new dining hall would be flush with the CBB, maintaining the aesthetics of the area. Although the walk to the new dining hall for the residents of Hannon Hall will be further than that of their current situation, the board stated that the walk would only be approximately two and a half minutes from Hannon, which they felt was an acceptable distance.
University Food Services expressed excitement about the new project and the ability to design a new space rather than working around pre-existing building and design constraints. Todd Jutila, the director of University Food Services said that the organization has learned a lot from the Miller Renovation and will implement many of the same features in the new dining hall. Students can expect the same style of service, where a majority of the food is cooked and produced out front, not in the back room. Not only does this allow students to see their food being made, but it also increases the capacity of the dining hall. Before renovation, Miller was making approximately 5,000 meals a day. Post renovation, that number has jumped up to 7,000. According to Jutila, that number of meals would not have been possible with the old style of food preparation.
Jutila said that that he is pleased with the unique seating layout of Miller, including areas with couches and televisions, two-person raised tables, four-person raised tables and the larger traditional style tables. At the University Facilities Planning Board meeting, some ideas presented for the new dining hall seating were a potential sky garden and green space in front of the building.
According to Jutila, because the new dining hall does not need to be built around pre-existing infrastructure, the entire process will be smoother than the Miller renovation. Jutila explained that part of the reason UFS decided to construct a new building rather than renovate Harrison and Hannon was that older buildings limit the possibilities of the project and can have many setbacks. He used the Miller renovation as an example: the team had to deal with unexpected infrastructure complications as well as make updates to the seismic and plumbing systems. On top of the benefits of designing from the ground up, the new building will not need phases and will not disrupt the services at Harrison and Hannon, which will continue to run until the completion of the project.
The new dining hall is expected to open for the fall 2018 semester.