Where Can I Eat Tomorrow: Dining Hall Renovations to Come

Built in 1947, the Dining Hall has long since stood as a central part of campus. While the school has changed significantly since then and enrollment has doubled, the Dining Hall has not been updated in any major way. Renovations have been around the corner for years and plans continue to be refined.
The renovations are intended to increase capacity, improve the speed of service lines, and foster a stronger community by providing a warm and comfortable place for conversations and school gatherings. The Dining Hall currently seats around 300, nowhere near enough to hold the entire school, which Mr. Josh Hahn, assistant head of school and director of strategic initiatives, estimated at “a combined total of 1,000 people, including students, faculty, families, and staff.”
Fostering a strong sense of community spirit has been identified as a crucial part of the Strategic Initiatives identified by the Board of Trustees. Therefore, a renovated Dining Hall is being designed to seat at least half the school.
Though there is still no finalized timeline for the renovations, initial designs for the new Dining Hall have already been drafted and revised. However, as Mr. Hahn emphasized, “Everything is up for change, as we are currently in the planning stages. Things may change, based on new ideas that appear that we have not been accounted for.”
The Dining Hall will still occupy its current position in the center of campus, but its walls will be pushed out towards Bissell Common and in the direction of the Griswold Science Building. The additional space will allow for the creation of a more efficient, modern kitchen, and changes to the servery will create a better-flowing hotline.
New features will be added, including additional stir-fry stations and panini presses, and more additions to the salad bar. Furthermore, there will also be more tables, with new styles, such as booths, to allow studying and meetings to happen more easily in the space.
Mr. Hahn said that the school plans to build a temporary dining facility in Memorial Quad to feed the community while the main facility undergoes renovations. There is no planned date for the beginning of construction at this time.
There has been and will continue to be opportunities for community input in the design process. From the design fair last year to conversations about smaller details this year, students should never be afraid to share their ideas. Mr. Hahn said, “This is a unique project, in which the whole community has a chance to contribute and give input.”
Even without a firm timeline, the upcoming project will affect everyone at Hotchkiss, so the community should look for more details on the expansion and improvement of the dining facilities as the year goes forward.