At the beginning of the school year, a number of students and an occasional professor wondered where the College was serving its meals. A good question, considering that the Lombard Dining Hall—the school’s one and only—began a massive, multi-million dollar renovation earlier this year, and it was natural to think that the building would be closed.
But it’s been dining as usual in this structure erected in 1974. Students and faculty need only take a detour by crossing to the far side of Center Road and then crossing back to a side entrance into Lombard.
It’s been hard to miss the early stages of construction, as the brick outline of a new front entrance has risen, leaving the actual dining area intact. And while the project’s design and engineering have impressed, the planning has become the bigger marvel.
At first glance, the almost four-year schedule may seem excessive. In the past few years, we’ve constructed our two newest buildings—the Fels Center and the Academic Building—in less time than that, and from the ground up. But the challenge here has been to create a state-of-the-art dining facility while keeping the student body fed.
The solution has meant doing the heavy lifting on a compact, efficient schedule during vacation breaks, starting with the past summer, when the new vaulted entrance took shape. We’ve adjusted the coming break between fall and spring semesters to accommodate construction that would otherwise be intrusive. The same approach will continue next summer, and so forth.
The final result in 2021 will be worth waiting for, as a cathedral ceiling extends the length of the dining hall with light streaming in from numerous windows, and energy efficient food stations will dot the periphery.