Construction of the new North Avenue Dining Facility, which began in May 2010, is scheduled to be completed by the end of this semester. A soft opening is scheduled for the summer semester in June, and the facility will be open to all students beginning in Fall 2011.
According to Rich Steele, acting executive director of Auxiliary Services, the new dining hall will occupy the retail space previously facing North Avenue and is set to accommodate approximately 300 people. The dining format will be “all you care to eat,” and will serve the Tech community 24 hours a day, five days a week.
A variety of new menu options will be made available to students at the new facility, including Vietnamese Pho, Dim Sum and Chinese Wok. The facility will also include the regular menu served at Brittain and Woodruff dining halls, including pizza/pasta stations, salad bar, wings, fries, cheeseburgers and traditional grill food.
“One of the main features of this new facility is the ability of students to customize their meals. Not only will they find more options and more flexibility, but they will also find healthier and more unique choices,” Steele said.
Additionally, the construction brings many new changes to the North Avenue facility, including a renovation of the first floor of the North Avenue Apartments North Building, bringing the total space to 20,000 square feet.
This project also includes improvements to the landscape and lighting along North Avenue, and a renovation of the plaza leading up to the apartments. The new plaza will include both an elevator for disability access and a water feature that uses recycled water.
Initial planning began for this project in March 2007 when Tech acquired the North Avenue apartments and has been in development ever since. From the beginning of the planning process, a bi-weekly meeting with student leaders from RHA and SGA has been held to determine student views on the construction project.
Additionally, a student focus group was convened in early Feb. 2010 to provide valuable feedback, and additional focus groups will be used as the project moves forward. Some of the concerns raised dealt with issues regarding the variety of food choices, hours the establishment will be open, and sustainability practices that could be implemented.
The design of the new dining hall allows for most of the food to be cooked and prepared in front of the customers. The facility also includes features such as a semi-private dining area, 30 ft. long LED lit walls and custom-made steel plating to allow for easy service and cleaning of fixtures and cooking surfaces.
“A major improvement that this dining hall will see is its sustainable nature and LEED Gold certification. We have put a number of features in this building that allow it to use as little energy and resources as possible,” said TP Bullock, the project manager.
LEED is a certification program for the design, construction and operation of buildings. The facility will feature a dish-washing system that will decrease solid waste production by nearly 80 percent and conserve a significant amount of water.
“The primary function of this dining facility, beyond simply feeding students, is to allow them to enjoy their dining experience. We want the facility to become a landmark at Tech, and something that students can enjoy for generations,” Steele said.
The new dining hall, which will cost a total of $10 million, as opposed to the initially projected $30 million, is the first new dining hall that has been constructed at the Institute since Brittain in 1928. The purpose of the construction has been to replace the aging Woodruff dining hall.
“This is the first dining hall we’ve built in a long time, and we wanted to do it right. We want Tech students to be proud of this and cannot wait for it to debut next Fall,” Steele said.