A $31 million dining hall will open in January 2017 after the winter break.
The new dining hall, proposed to be named University Dining Center, is the second phase of a long-term project by Residential Life. It will be located across from Preska Residence Hall on Maywood Avenue. It’s being funded entirely by revenue bonds, which will be paid off with revenue generated from Residential Life room and board fees.
Many of the new hall’s features are centered on sustainability, according to Residential Life Director Cindy Janney, who describes the building’s new equipment as “cutting edge.” The equipment is expected to drastically reduce the energy used in lighting, heating and ventilation. The exterior of the building is being designed to keep in more heat in the winter and keep in cool air in the summer.
In addition to its effects on the environment, the new equipment is also expected to reduce maintenance and labor. Janney said silverware sometimes falls through the dish conveyor belt Carkoski Dining Hall where its mechanical parts are located. This leads to frequent labor from maintenance workers. A new loading dock area will also allow for faster and smoother deliveries.
“When a student buys a board plan, the things they’re paying for are food, labor and utilities,” Janney said. “These design aspects will reduce the cost of utilities and labor so more of the board plan goes toward food.”
Other features are focused on the overall dining experience. There will be more cooking stations out in the open so students can see their food cooked in front of them. The dining hall’s main kitchen will have a large window wall.
“We’re working on ‘showing’ what’s happening,” Janney said.
Janney said all these new features will make the new dining hall feel more like a restaurant. More food will be prepared on the spot and students will have more options to customize what’s cooked for them. New equipment will also expand the number of food options available for chefs and cooks to make.
“I think it’s going to be state-of-the-art,” Dining Services Operations Manager Jamie Waterbury said. “They really designed it well and kept food forward thinking in mind.”
There will be a variety of seating options for students, including standard tables, booths, high tables and bar seating. Some of the tables will have large TV screens near them and other tables will have smaller, personal TV’s. The larger building means it will be a lot more spacious on the interior and Waterbury said it will lead to less congestion during peak times.
“You think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with food, clothing and shelter at the bottom,” Janney said. “Residential Life is working on that bottom level and those needs need to be met to succeed academically.”
The university’s current dining hall in Carkoski Commons will no longer be used for dining purposes after the fall 2016 semester and the building’s future is being planned.
Photo: (Trevor Cokley/The Reporter)