New reception spaces and a marketplace-style food court will be features of the new Commons.
Michels Commons sees early completion
The new Michels Commons, a renovated and expanded cafeteria and union complex, is on track to open a semester ahead of schedule. When students return to campus at the end of January, the entire facility, including the cafeteria, will be fully operational.
“I am so anxious to see the smiling faces of our students as they enter their brand new dining hall for the first time. They deserve a comfortable and relaxing environment when they sit down to enjoy their brief break from academics, and now they will have it,” says Mary Jo Morris, director of dining and conference services.
The Michels Commons project transforms the old Sensenbrenner Memorial Union building, expanding dining capacity from 450 to 600 seats. It will include a renovated Peace and Justice Center, ballroom, reception spaces, outdoor patios, copy center and meeting rooms.
In addition, Ruth’s Marketplace, a modern, health-conscious food court named for Ruth Michels, will provide a new student-dining experience featuring five main dining stations: international, grill and homestyle, pizza/pasta sauté, deli, and salad bar.
Ruth Johnson (Auxiliary Services) looks forward to the new setting and the community feel it will foster: “Ruth’s Marketplace will allow our staff to interact with our customers while they are preparing and serving the menu selections for the day. Prior to the renovation, all of the food was prepared in the main kitchen in the lower level of the building and sent up to the main serving area via an elevator.”
Adjacent to Ruth’s, Dale’s Sports Lounge will be equipped with TVs. During hours that the campus meal plan is available, Dale’s – named for the late Dale Michels – will expand the cafeteria seating area. After hours, the lounge will serve “basket” menu selections.
“Dale’s will be a place to eat, hang out with friends and watch the latest sporting events on TV,” says Johnson.
As various contractors collaborated on the Michels Commons project, they discovered they could knock months off its timeline.
“The original plan was to start building the elevator addition on the north, move to the Dale’s addition on the east and finish with the dining room rotunda on the southwest, sequentially,” says John Barnes (Facilities).
It soon became apparent that different parts of the project could be done concurrently. “We were able to save three months off the back of the schedule,” Barnes says.
To see the most recent renderings of the new cafeteria – and even watch construction in progress, via live webcam – visit the Michels Commons website.