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Posted on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

University of Michigan to consolidate central campus dining in upcoming renovations

By Kellie Woodhouse


A rendering of the renovated South Quad.

U-M image

University of Michigan is planning to consolidate much of its central campus dining into a refurbished South Quadrangle dining hall.

After a $60 million renovation, South Quad's dining hall will have the capacity to seat 950 students a time, a significant uptick from the current limit of 650 students. That increase is necessary given the school plans to eventually close dining halls in the West Quadrangle and Betsy Barbour dormitories, which have a capacity of 375 diners and 120 diners, respectively.

The university has consolidated dining halls before. When renovating its hill neighborhood heritage halls, near the health campus, U-M consolidated dining services to one location, the Hill Dining center, which received a $21 million renovation.

Thumbnail image for West-Quad.JPG

West Quad will be receiving a $114.5 million renovation.

"This isn't the first experiment but the second," U-M Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow told regents during the Thursday meeting.

The design for the new dining center and accompanying dormitory renovations were presented before regents during a Thursday meeting, along with a proposal for a $114.5 million renovation of West Quad that includes gutting its current dining hall and creating community spaces for residents.

The eight-member governing board approved both projects.

The proposed South Quad dining hall design bucks the concept of a traditional college dining hall and instead embraces micro-restaurants and open, varied seating for students.

Focus groups of students met with architects, including Christopher Purdy, to discuss the design.

“They’re really focused on a variety of food options, they’re focused on very high quality food, they’re focused on social space, their focused on fresh and healthy options," Purdy told regents. "That input really drove the design concept for the dining space, which focuses on micro-reatuarants so its not a large, traditional dining hall."


University of Michigan's South Quad will undergo a $40 million renovation beginning in the summer.

Courtney Sacco I

The South Quad renovation also includes the creation of new community spaces, music practice rooms and a game room, as well as the renovation of resident bathrooms and a new building entrance.

Community spaces also are a central focus of the West Quadrangle renovation. While the dormitory's dining hall will be gutted, new study spaces and group collaboration spaces will be installed.

U-M vice president for student affairs E. Royster Harper emphasized the importance of community spaces, saying they increase student collaboration and create more dynamic student experiences.

Improved community and living-learning spaces have been a recurring theme in the 10 residence hall renovations U-M has proposed or completed since 2008, which have or will cost $626 million.

View The Quads in a larger map

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

After renovation in 1952-54, West Quad had a room capacity of 1048 and Betsy Barbour 116.. Dining was 375 and 120 respectively (the Barbour's must like that U cooking - alot!).. 495 table settings for 1164 kids are to be cut to 300 South Quad feed stations for all 1164 kids. A clever way to cut service costs. Maybe those new Union and William street "fast-gourmet" franchises enjoyed some insider information?

Frustrated in A2

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5 p.m.

I feel sorry for the students who will be getting up on a cold Sunday morning and walking from Barbour or Newberry 2-3 blocks to get all the way over to South Quad just to eat. I wonder if they did a survey of the students in the dorms that would have to walk through inclement weather before they decided to close their cafeterias. I know it's to late for them now though.

Lizzy Alfs

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

It does seem to make sense for U-M, though, to have several very large dining halls instead of dining halls in almost every dorm. I lived in Couzens and we had a dining hall that ended up closing a few years after I left. It seems like the costs involved in running many dining halls would be much higher. Plus, the smaller ones - like the one in Couzens - had weird hours and were closed certain days, so we always ended up eating at Alice Lloyd. The big dining halls, like the current one in South Quad or the new one in Mojo or North Quad, are where all the students want to eat anyway!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

I think you are absolutely correct. Other benefits with the new larger dining halls are the wider variety of foods served AND the extended hours. That is a big factor for those who have classes running until 5:30 or 6:00. Or even those that have classes from say 10:30 to 1:30 and now aren't missing the limited lunch hours of the 'olden days'.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

An enclosed walkway connecting the buildings in this nothern climate would seem appropriate , Uof M Flint has some.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:18 a.m.

The only thing edible at South Quad when I was a student were the boxes of Cap'n Crunch we would sneak out of the dining room. It does seem a bit inconvenient for the Barbour and West Quad kids to have to go out in the cold weather to get food, but it'll be a good character building exercise.

An Arborigine

Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:40 a.m.

Observers noted that roughly 33% more students could be treated to such favorites as minute steak, american cheese-food and chicken surprise simultaneously.