The renovation of Wheelock’s dining and kitchen area is projected to be completed on schedule. This expansion will open up more seating area, update the equipment in the kitchens and relocate the offices of dining staff.
“What we have as far as … infrastructure is really small, and it’s now old,” Mike Segawa, Dean of Students, said. “Our DCS staff is … literally shoulder to shoulder in there. And so, that really was the starting point.”
Besides needing more space for staff and students, the plans for the construction came about because of an increased diversity in the diets of modern students.
“That was the reason: that we really felt like we needed to improve the dining space, the preparation space especially,” Segawa said.
The new portion of the Student Union Building (S.U.B.) will be fully operational by the time new students arrive in August. By that time, food services will continue without interruption, and the operations of the building can be integrated with the new spaces.
From the beginning of the project to the completed building, concern and praise have been directed towards the staff members who work within the building and direct dining services.
“The dining and conference services staff, they’re in little nooks and crannies as offices all over the building. There really isn’t a break space for the staff, there isn’t locker space for them,” Segawa said. “This expansion will enable us to have our DCS colleagues have really good workspace. That was important to us.”
“We really appreciate the dining hall staff running outside every day …They have been just the unsung heroes of the project,” Bob Kief, Associate Vice President of Facilities Services, said.
Kief also noted that despite the challenge of having to work in difficult conditions with the added obstacle of construction, there has not been a drop in service quality at all.
“We just didn’t have an extended period of time where we could take down food service,” Segawa said.
“We have to feed the community … It’s much different than constructing a new building like we did with Commencement Hall. That’s pretty straightforward compared to changing the wheels of the bus while the bus is moving.”
The building of Commencement Hall was a reflection of the need to accommodate the amount of students and service work for which Puget Sound will be providing, and the expansion of Wheelock will additionally show the technologically and spatially diverse needs of the student body and our food services.
One of the goals of this project is to give student and staff organizations more event space. Currently, the Rotunda is the only available hosting space that can be used without shutting down Marshall Hall for the rest of the student body. This expansion will allow for clubs to host events in the building without obstructing the rest of the hall.
“Having the expanded seating area will allow us to take pressure off of the Rotunda, to have the Rotunda more available more often for people to eat, rather than have it offline consistently for events and meetings,” Segawa said.
“Right now, there are three phases,” Kief said. The first phase was the completion of the lobby area and the ground floor.
The second phase is the extension of the back section. The third phase will renovate the serving area of the building, and a temporary serving area will be placed in Marshall Hall.
The work being done now is the progression of the second stage. “The first level will be all kitchen space, the second level will be dining space…and the offices for dining services will be up there also,” Kief said.
This second phase should be completed on May 12, and students will be able to eat there soon after.
Over the summer, during the third phase, the serving area will be completely cleared out and moved to the new area.
“We’ll…open that up probably around mid-August, just in time for the opening of school,” Kief said.
“The result, I think, is going to be spectacular,” Segawa said.
“I think our community is pretty appreciative of the dining services that we have, but what they’re going to be able to do with expanded kitchen facilities and a new servery is going to be really terrific.”