Culinary makeover for Vic common room

Design consultant Micheline Galoska said her design was inspired by other food services like the Common Ground.
Design consultant Micheline Galoska said her design was inspired by other food services like the Common Ground.

It’s for students like Catherine Payne, Comm ’09, that a new food and entertainment facility has been proposed for the lower common room in Victoria Hall. Payne, who lives on main campus, said that although she doesn’t plan on living in residence next year when the facility is scheduled to open, she thinks it’s a neat idea.

“It could be a cool place for all underage students to hang out,” she said.

The project, slated for groundbreaking on May 1 and opening next September, is currently in the design stages.

“The [facility’s] feel is of a non-alcoholic pub,” said Alexis Meyerman, MCRC president, who has been involved in the design process this year.

Meyerman said the facility, which has a planned capacity of 100, will include pool tables, televisions and booth seating.

She said the space would be run by Sodexho and also serve food.

“It’s meant to be a late-night facility,” she said. “It would serve real food, not snacks.”

Bruce Griffiths, director of residence and hospitality services, said the idea for the project came out of student surveys conducted over the past two years. He said two main issues emerged from the survey results.

“One was the ability to use the meal plan at night,” he said. “The other thing is the flexibility issue.”

Griffiths said the fact that about 90 per cent of students in residence are underage was also considered while deciding what to do with the space.

He said the project cost has risen from the initial estimate primarily due to the costs of ventilation.

“We started with a budget of $350,000,” he said. “It is getting closer to $1 million.”

Griffiths added that while the budget has increased, the project will be cancelled if the figures become too high.

“It has to be financially viable,” he said.

Griffiths said the facility’s location would benefit residence and hospitality services as well because it will bring in retail sales and be helpful during conference season in the summer.

“If we have a group under 200 and open the dining halls, we lose money,” he said. “The money [that’s saved by not opening the dining halls] would accrue in the residence [account].”

Griffiths said the facility will use the cash equivalency program currently used in the West Campus dining hall at lunch time, but added the details haven’t yet been worked out regarding how the meal equivalency program will work in the new facility.

Meyerman said the project will not replace the cafeterias or Rez Express, but instead offer a different food service.

“The idea is that this would be a manageable amount [and] limit the number of equivalencies,” she said. “We can’t swing to meal equivalencies, we couldn’t sustain them now.”

Meyerman said the location of the new facility was decided by a committee assigned to the project but that “both residence councils lobbied for Vic Hall.” She said details pertaining to the hours and security of the new facility haven’t yet been finalized.

Micheline Galoska of Gansen Lindsay, the design consultants on the project, said her design came from a tour of other campus eating spaces, including the Mac-Corry Cafeteria, the Common Ground and the QP.

“[The space should have] flexibility to reconfigure the furniture, create anchors,” she said in a meeting held on Tuesday afternoon to generate feedback on preliminary design concepts.

Galoska said her design, which she describes as having a Gothic and Renaissance theme, would be supplemented by lighting and music, something she noted from other on-campus establishments.

She added the most important part of her design is that “it looks good in five years.”

Paloma Supple, Sci ’08, said she would have liked to have had the late-night food option when she was in first year.

“Late night food is good for engineers, [because] you are up late,” she said. “It would be good to go and chill or take a study break.”

After viewing the preliminary concept drawings, Meyerman said she approves.

“I think this would be really enjoyable for students,” she said. “It’s a combination of entertainment, eating and a coffee shop.”

Griffiths said the project will go out to tender in mid-January to meet the May start date.

Students are invited to a forum about the project on Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. in Victoria Hall, room A010.

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