Construction is under way on a $5.5 million renovation that will more than double the size of the Russell Sage Dining Hall and clear the way for an expanded menu, a variety of seating options, shorter service lines, and a better dining experience overall.
Work began last week and will continue until fall 2008. For most of that time now through May the dining hall will remain open.
Food service will be interrupted during the summer months but will resume in the newly renovated facility again next fall. Hours of operation will stay the same: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and late-night dining, Monday through Thursday, 10:30 p.m. to midnight.
At the heart of the Russell Sage Dining Hall renovation is a 4,348-square-foot addition that will increase seating capacity from 140 to 315. Located on the north end of the building, the addition will feature natural lighting, an open design, and booth, counter, and couch seating.
The addition also will be home to a beverage station, salad bar, and exhibition-style cooking station. The current dining area will be transformed into a new serving area, with more food choices and a more convenient customer-friendly design. “The renovation is in keeping with The Rensselaer Plan goal of improving quality of life for our students,” says Kathryn Edick, director of auxiliary, parking, and transportation services. “The result will be a warmer, more comfortable dining atmosphere with a greater variety of menu offerings.”
The renovated serving area will include a pizza station with wood-fired oven and made-to-order pizzas, calzones, and strombolis. A new deli station will include panini and other gourmet breads as well as specialty salads. Because each food station will have its own queue, students also can expect to spend less time waiting in line.
“Students will see a dramatic improvement,” says John Fusco, resident district manager for Sodexho Dining Services. “The expansion will allow us to offer more food choices, to prepare them in more interesting ways and to serve students more quickly.”
Both the design of the dining hall and the menu items reflect student input. Rensselaer and Sodexho began meeting with Student Senate members two years ago to solicit student opinions and share proposals for the renovation. In addition, Sodexho has a student board of directors that provides feedback and recommendations for menu offerings.
“Students provide valuable input, and that’s important to us,” Edick says. “After all, they’re the reason we are here.”
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