January 7th, 2016
The University of North Dakota (UND) has reopened the doors to the largest food service area on campus after completely renovating the 46-year old Wilkerson Hall now Wilkerson Commons to bring a new level of cost and resource efficiencies and opportunity for student gathering and engagement to campus.
The architectural team of JLG Architects and Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) were tasked with expanding dining services and food presentation while improving efficiencies, increasing natural light to allow students to study and eat in natural daylight even on -30 degree days, and providing amenities that elevate social experiences.
JLG and SCBs 21,000 sq.ft. addition and 40,000 sq.ft. renovation encourages student, faculty and visitor interaction through open, flexible and colorful spaces. The terracotta-clad addition, highlighted with floor-to-ceiling glass, extends a prominent presence along University Avenue and offers a covered walkway for pedestrians.
The transformation of Wilkerson has made it unrecognizable to previous generations of students who dined here, said Jim Galloway, Principal at JLG Architects. In addition to providing the greatest selection and variety of food options and a dining atmosphere not yet found on campus, the study and social life amenities will set a new standard in higher education in our region.
In the main dining area, eight display cooking stations prepare a variety of expanded fresh food options, including Allergen-Free dining and Dakota Homestyle cuisine. A chefs demonstration cooking platform is flanked by two monitors to illustrate healthy cooking techniques.
On the operations side, cook and chill operations are now centralized for the first time at UND and allow food service to make soups, sauces and other bulk items for the entire campus, ensuring consistent quality and greatly reducing the amount of processed food utilized. The $4 million kitchen and servery includes 11 walk-in coolers that will monitor the temperature of the individual food in the freezers to help the staff track how products are affected during high-traffic times, as well as specialty equipment such as a meat slicer that will allow staff to cut lunch meats in three hours, rather than twenty.
The facilitys direct connection to several residence halls meant that the renovated space had to act not only as a progressively designed dining center, but as a home for Campus Housing offices and as support space for student life. While not intended to replace the UND Student Union, Wilkerson will be relied upon to provide many parallel services on the west end of campus.
Formerly called Wilkerson Hall, the university elected to rename Wilkerson Commons to better reflect the buildings revamped purpose as a bigger and brighter central gathering space with a large dining area used by the entire campus community, according to David Dodds, Media Relations Coordinator at UND.
Said Lori Reesor, Vice President of Student Affairs, "In the past, Wilkerson Hall has always been the building you go through on your way to someplace else. But the new Wilkerson will serve as a magnet drawing students, faculty and staff together."