When Miami University students return to campus this week, they’ll find $93 million worth of completed renovations to the East Quad of the campus, including completely renovated residence halls with new dining facilities.
That’s just one burst of a construction boom the Oxford campus has experienced in recent years, with more than $200 million of projects in various stages of completion, according to university spokeswoman Claire Wagner. But the East Quad renovations are significant because they mirror similar ones on the campus’ north side that are underway, said Matt Frericks, the director of auxiliary planning and facilities.
The East Quad renovations come in two major pieces: Garden Commons includes the new dining facilities. The residences halls have all been renovated, including Collins, Dennison, Dorsey, McBride and Symmes. The Garden Commons dining facilities are open to the public but would be most used by freshmen, Frericks said.
Part of Garden Commons had been a dining hall when Symmes Hall was built in the 1940s. In the 1990s, it became a training center, but the renovations have returned it to a dining hall, said Robert Bell, the project manager for physical facilities. It seats about 300 people.
“One of the reasons we chose to add on to this side of the building on this part of the quad was to try to attract some people beyond students,” Bell said. “It’s just much more visible and accessible. The dining facility used to be behind another residence hall.”
The dining hall includes a salad bar with a fruit bar and oatmeal and bagels available in the morning. There are also stations devoted to Asian and Italian foods, said Tina Rotundo, the executive dining manager. There is also a convenience store where visitors can pick up foods to take with them. The dining areas are divided into rooms based on seasons, with different features in each.
Frericks added: “We have a parking garage that’s about 100 yards away, so the people who park there might want to come to our convenience store to get a coffee to go.”
Garden Commons also has a number of green energy features, including chairs made entirely out of recycled soda bottles, with each chair being made out of 100 bottles, Rotundo said. And there are green features behind the scenes as well. A machine called EnviroPure breaks down used dishes into water, reducing the waste from the dining halls, said Bell.
Similar green features are found inside the residence halls, including temperature control that uses sensors to determine when people are in the rooms. When people aren’t in their rooms, the thermostat adjusts to a temperature that uses less energy, Frericks said.
That’s one of many new features in the residence halls. Part of Dennison Hall used to be a dining hall, but it’s entirely residential now. It includes recreation areas with pool and ping pong tables. Miami was able to get 50 extra beds by converting the dining hall area to residential, according to Bell. With the dorms having been under construction, Miami has faced a shortage of 300 beds,
The North Quad of the campus is undergoing the same renovations as the East Quad, with a price tag of $98.3 million. Those are expected to be open in the fall of 2016, Wagner said. The flurry of construction has led to $679 million in university debt, but David Creamer, the university’s finance director, said he does not expect the debt to increase.