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Residence hall renovation details released

By Molly Block, Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 17, 2013

University Housing has released renderings and details of what East Quad residence hall will look like after the $116-million renovations are complete, and has provided further details about future renovations to South Quad and West Quad residence halls.

The completed residence hall will include air conditioning, infrastructure upgrades, a new elevator; expanded, in-room wireless internet access; and lower-level classrooms and offices to accommodate the Residential College.

While previous to the major upgrade East Quad had two smaller cafeterias, a single dining hall will seat about 400 students, said Christine Siegel, senior associate director of housing services.

“The dining is going to be completely reconfigured,” Siegel said. “It’s going to include seven what we’re calling 'micro-restaurants.' In dining, we’re really moving toward a concept of our larger dining centers’ providing smaller venues — micro-restaurants.”

Some of these micro-restaurants include 24 Carrots, a vegan station; Farmer’s Table, a comfort-food station that will use local, sustainable produce; and Signature, a showcase station for the chefs. The micro-restaurants will all prepare food in front of students, a different technique from traditional cafeteria-style serving.

East Quad renovations are currently on-time and on-budget, according to Housing officials. The residence hall will be open in the fall, at which time construction efforts will shift to South Quad.

South Quad to become center of Central Campus Dining

The renovations for South Quad residence hall will be similar to East Quad's, with a focus on the dining experience. South Quad will also have a Latin station, an Asian micro-restaurant, a grill and a smoker. It may also include an all-day breakfast area.

Linda Newman, the director of University Housing, said the Residential Life Initiatives program — which oversees the Residence Hall renovations — aims not only to institute infrastructural upgrades within campus life facilities, but also to improve their environments for the sake of the student experience.

However, Newman said South Quad’s renovations will not be as extensive as the recent renovations done to other buildings.

“South Quad is primarily a dining renovation,” Newman said. “The principle work is on the first and lower level. We are not doing the extent of infrastructure as we have the other renovations, but we will be redoing the bathrooms on all the residential floors.”

Housing officials envision South Quad will become the hub of Central Campus dining, Logan said.

“What will happen with dining is really the creation of a Central Campus dining center,” Logan said. “It will be far more different than what people associate with South Quad now, and the micro-restaurant concept is going to be taken to an even more extensive level."

"It’s actually going to be an exciting change in terms of the dining experience for not just South Quad residents, but residents throughout Central Campus," Logan added.

The centralized aspect of the dining hall would be similar to that of the Hill Dining Center, the main dining hall for all residents in dorms on the Hill.

The new dining hall will seat about 950 people, up from its current capacity of about 600. The Hill Dining Center seats 675.

Construction of South Quad is set for this summer and will be completed by the 2014 and 2015 school year.

West Quad next for rennovations

At the Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, University Housing officials will also propose renovations for West Quad residence hall that would begin in summer 2014.

A major change proposed for West Quad is the elimination of the dining hall and kitchen space, which would then be repurposed into a variety of study spaces. West Quad residents would instead go to the newly constructed South Quad dining hall for their dining needs.

Another large task for the West Quad renovations is addressing problems with its layout, Newman said.

“What we’re hoping to accomplish is the complete infrastructure renovations,” Newman said. “We’re hopefully going to be able to address some of the navigation issues around West Quad.”

West Quad renovations would complement some of the changes at South Quad, such as an alignment of the entrances of the two residence halls. South Quad will only have one entrance on the east side of building, compared with its current two-entrance layout.

“The goals of the program were to ensure that we had state-of-the-art life safety programs, to upgrade the infrastructure in heritage facilities, to modernize our dining facilities across campus, to introduce different styles of living arrangements and to design facilities that allow for better connection between living and learning,” Newman said.

University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said physical renovations to the residence halls are long overdue.

“Essentially this is all part of a multiple-year plan to revitalize and improve the living experience for Michigan students,” Logan said. “Major changes to the buildings have been deferred for many, many years and now we’re catching up with that to add another several generations of life to buildings that are vital to the campus experience.”

Assessments and studies about housing needs began in the 1990s, but the momentum for major renovations picked up when University President Mary Sue Coleman recognized residential living improvements as one of her top four priorities in 2002.