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Planning the Future of the Dining Hall

Jules Struck ’19, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Jules Struck ’19 / The Dickinsonian

Dickinson is planning a reconstruction of the dining hall in the coming years, and on Monday, March 4 they presented four options to the Dickinson community for feedback. 

A new dining hall would either be an extension of the HUB building or a stand-alone building near the HUB, presented Kim Yao, principal at New York City architecture firm Architecture Research Office (ARO), to the 10 students who showed up to Monday evening meeting.

The current dining hall seats 660 for a campus of 2,300 students. The new dining hall proposals to seat 1,100. The amount of space allotted to each seat would increase as well, and the total building size would have “a big footprint,” said Yao, “It’s a big one-story building,” though two-story options are also being explored. Two of the options, pictured at right, would remove Montgomery House and the Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium (ATS). 

The proposals are “very broad-brush explorations right now,” said Yao, who welcomed student feedback. 

Ken Shultes, associate vice president for Facilities & Sustainability Planning, said finalizing a plan and pricing would set the project’s timeline. “Even if we had a plan approved today and we had enough money for it, we’re probably about talking three or four years out,” he said. 

Dickinson has been considering renovation of the HUB and Allison Hall together, but the total cost estimate for that came out to $130-190 million, said Vice President for Finance and Administration Brontè Burleigh-Jones at a Feb. 11 Planning & Budget open meeting. 

“I don’t have to tell any of you, we do not have $130-190 million dollars,” said Burleigh-Jones, so the committee refocused “to look at the dining hall as our first phased project,” with “a spectrum of possibilities that would range from about $20 million, which would be the amount that we could borrow without putting a lot of pressure on the [projected] budget, up to $55 million, which would include the need for fundraising to assist with that project.” 

Yao said the HUB “is approaching the end of its life, we say, for systems and ability. It doesn’t mean you need to tear a building down, but it starts to require renovation.” 

Carol Petersen of ARO said “For Dickinson to remain competitive with other colleges and universities that students may want to go to, they need to bring their dining operations up to par of those other facilities.” 

Stephen Cassell of ARO said the dining hall is “so much smaller than it needs to be that you have to crank a lot of people through it… it doesn’t promote community.” 

Peterson said the college is considering sustainability, multi-use spaces, diverse seating options and micro-restaurants in their plans for the new dining hall. Students spoke about their interest in healthy-eating options, coffee bars and gluten-free areas. MOB members asked for the construction of any facilities to allow for equipment transport for events. 

What will happen to the current dining space in the HUB, if a new dining hall doesn’t use that area, is still up for consideration. 

Any construction process “will require some kind of phasing and logistics plan because of the dining challenge. How do you do a major renovation of the kitchen and here you’re using it to make food year-round,” said Yao. 

Some of the proposed options encroach on the ATS parking lot, and Ginnah Etah ’19 said “There’s already limited parking spots considering faculty, staff, college workers and students, so when I hear limiting parking, it’s like ‘oh no.’”

Students proposed moving any new construction to Morgan Field, Britton Plaza or Dana Hall, but in those cases the square-footage footprint of a new building would be too big for those spaces.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Planning the Future of the Dining Hall”

  1. Danielle on March 8th, 2019 8:23 am

    Does this mean that the food at Dickinson is also going to be evaluated? I assume that with new facilities, there becomes new norms of what can and cannot be accomplished as far as food service. I also find that there have been more intent complaints on our quality of food than the physical environment of the hub. (which no doubt is due for improvement) When is the food going to change?

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Planning the Future of the Dining Hall