The ongoing Pioneer Hall renovations will bring a new dining hall ready to serve the University of Minnesota's 2,800 Superblock students.
Renovations of the 88-year-old dormitory will include a new consolidated dining area for all Superblock students after the University closes its Centennial Hall dining facility and Pioneer re-opens in fall 2019. The new dining hall’s layout will be comparable to 17th Avenue Residence Hall’s modern facility.
Final students moved out of Pioneer Hall in spring 2017 after the design process began in February 2016. Site demolition began in summer 2017.
The nearly $22.8 million dining hall renovation will bring the facility up to ground-level from its previous home underground, allowing for added options and capacity.
At ground-level, the dining hall will feature windows, natural light and will hold 850 seats, said Kevin Ross, senior project manager with Capital Planning and Project Management.
“We were really limited in what we could do with that space in terms of new dining concepts, in terms of bringing that facility to more of a contemporary updated dining facility that we felt could be really attractive,” said Laurie McLaughlin, director of Housing and Residential Life.
After closing Centennial’s dining facility, Pioneer and Frontier Hall students will have tunnel access to the new dining facility while students living in Superblock's other residence halls will not.
Previously, dining halls in Pioneer and Centennial had a combined total of 822 seats.
The dining facility will be open-concept with a variety of seating arrangements, similar to 17th Avenue Residence Hall. Dining options will include a Mongolian grill, bakery, pasta bar and ice cream options, said Amy Keran, director of contract administration at the University.
The facility will carry over accommodations similar to all other campus dining halls, with vegan and vegetarian options and an allergen-friendly station.
The new hall will allow for more dining opportunities than the space in Centennial while retaining similar late-night hours.
“To have that open-air concept and to be able to grow and expand, to do what we’re doing right now with Pioneer, it’s great because rarely do you get an opportunity to say… 'this kitchen is too small, so how can we make a bigger one?'” Keran said. “So, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
McLaughlin says she hopes the new layout will offer Superblock students a central dining location and serve as a more efficient way to deliver food to students.
The University is currently brainstorming plans to repurpose the Centennial dining hall site. A Housing and Residential Life student advisory board worked with the University last year with plans to check back with students on their ideas in the upcoming year. McLaughlin said the school has considered making the former dining hall space into a laundry room, study area or meditation room.
“It’s just exciting to have this ability to rejuvenate a space,” McLaughlin said.