West Village construction breaks ground

Photo courtesy of Cooper Carry

Coming Fall 2017, West Campus will have a new place to eat, study and relax. This three-story, hybrid building known as the West Village Dining Commons will have seven dining concepts and reservable meeting rooms, classrooms and study spaces.

West Village will be located in front of Caldwell and Folk residence halls, in place of what once was a parking lot. The building will be accessible by a bridge between Folk and Caldwell, Curran St. Parking Deck and ground level. Tech’s Parking and Transportation Services will be changing the Stinger bus route to stop right in front of this location. The building is in Phase II of construction and is set to be completed in Summer 2017.

“This is really a significant change to the whole neighborhood of West Campus. West Campus has never had a communal space where students can gather,” says Richard Steele, senior director of Auxiliary Services. According to Steele, this project is a real game changer: “This will not operate like a traditional dining hall.”

Until now, students have only had dining options like Woodruff dining hall or the Westside Market. West Village will have the look and feel of the Student Center but will offer dining options accessible to students on a meal plan. Additionally, the space will have classrooms for GT 1000 courses and School of Music classes as well as multiple indoor and outdoor seating areas. There will be roughly 600 seats indoors and about 250 seats outdoors. Outside, students can enjoy outdoor seating and fire pits. The second and third floor will have large outdoor terraces with a view of the Midtown skyline.

West Village will accessible to all students, even those not on a Tech meal plan.

Along with this year’s restructuring of meal plans, the entire structure of on-campus dining could be changing in the next few years. West Village symbolizes Tech trying to get ahead of an important shift in on-campus dining culture.

“The direction of campus dining is not all-you-can-eat dining halls,” Steele says. “We see the direction as higher-quality and nutritious food.”

The lower level of West Village will house a Panera Bread as well as a view into Tech’s commissary pastry kitchen, where students can watch campus pâtissière Katherine Benson and her team of 10 prepare all of the pastries for the campus dining.

The top level will have a full Starbucks, like the one currently in Clough Commons.

The second level will be similar to the “food hall” structure, like popular Atlanta food hall locations like Ponce City Market or Krog Street Market. The five restaurants on this level will include Olive, Farmhouse, Spice Trail, Simple Servings and a Local Chef’s Station.

Olive is a Mediterranean restaurant heavily influenced by Italian Cuisine, with a cooked-to-order station for foods like macaroni and cheese, risotto and personalized and personal-sized pizzas.

Farmhouse will keep it local, with locally sourced vegetables and all-natural, grass-fed, hormone-free meats.

Spice Trail is inspired by the trail that Marco Polo took from the Mediterranean to the Far East, with Thai, Lebanese, Greek, Japanese and Chinese food. Simple Servings provides a safe zone for students with allergies, serving foods free of common allergens, like peanuts, shellfish and gluten.

The Local Chef’s Station will feature a different Tech or local Atlanta chef weekly, who will prepare lunch and dinner for students based on their expertise.

Tech’s own Executive Chef Jonathan Elwell will likely be featured for a week at the Local Chef’s Station. Elwell is the Southern Regional National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) champion and recently won second place in the NACUFS national championship.

Elwell has big plans for preparing his first meal at the Chef’s Station: “Molasses-glazed pork tenderloin with … [an] apple gastrique over local sweet potatoes pureed with molasses and then braised local grains.”

Students will be able to try this dish and many others as soon as next fall. Until then, West will have to endure a few months of construction.

“It’ll be troublesome for people living on West Campus, and we certainly apologize for the inconvenience,” Steele said.

Most major inconveniences were addressed over the summer.