Letchworth to undergo major renovations

Letchworth Dining Hall is scheduled to close for renovations following the spring 2012 semester as part of an ongoing effort by Campus Auxiliary Services to improve overall on-campus dining options.

According to Mark Scott, executive director of CAS, Letchworth Dining Hall is "falling apart" and in need of major repairs and upgrades in order to be an efficient, maintainable space.

"Doing a project of this scope cannot be accomplished without the necessary construction time," said Jeffrey Kaplan, the director of Facilities Planning and Construction. The dining hall has to be completely closed in order to finish the project.

In addition to necessary repairs including the replacement of the heating and air conditioning systems, many interior changes are planned. The upper floor will be expanded to offer more seating and a diverse dining atmosphere. Freshly prepared food selections will be increased and are expected to include Asian, Italian and home-cooked styles of food. Increased options for students with dietary restrictions will also be available.

"Although I'll miss having such a close and convenient dining hall as Letch, the renovations sound positive and exciting, especially the attention to dietary restrictions," said sophomore Kristen Balschunat. "And I hope to see more local food options."

Exhibition stations where diners can watch cooks prepare meals of their own creation and areas where students can gather to study or watch TV will also be embedded in the second floor.

"This is not only a place where people will come to eat … but a community place," Scott said. He added that he hopes that the newly designed space will be something for Geneseo students and faculty to be proud of and use in a variety of ways.

Scott said that the expanded downstairs area will have a retail-inspired setting, including a sub station and coffee bar with potential nighttime hours.

"We wanted to create a sense of being in a totally different place," Scott said, adding that he expects commuting students to visit the restaurant as well.

Mary Jemison Dining Hall will be open for dinner during the renovation period. CAS has also been considering introducing food trucks throughout campus as an alternative dining option. Scott said CAS is committed to ensuring that all students have easy access to dining year-round.

The closing is not expected to affect the number of CAS jobs on campus, though there may be a slight decrease in student employment.

According to Maria Mazurek, an associate at Clark Patterson Lee, the firm designing the project, considerations were made to make the exterior changes to the building consistent with other recently renovated or constructed buildings, such as Erie and Seneca Halls. This will include replacing some of the current windows with a curtain wall system.

Geothermal heating and cooling, recycling opportunities, the installation of a rainwater harvesting system and the use of more reflective sidewalk surfaces will all contribute to the environmental sustainability of the building, according to Mazurek.

Letchworth will meet the specifications for the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification, just as Putnam, Monroe and Seneca Halls currently do. Doty and Bailey Halls will also have this certification upon completion.

The total cost of the renovation is $17.2 million. The vast majority of the project is state-funded through the Critical Maintenance Budget, which is separate from the college's Operation Budget.