The Hodson Dining Commons open house, complete with student tours of the new building renovations, took place on Thursday, Oct. 26.
The open house was an informative hour filled with 15-minute tours to update students and provide insight for what is coming to the DC.
Ron Sutherland, special assistant to the president, led the tours, guiding students through the entrance, eating and sitting areas and even the kitchen. He informed students on the progress and accomplishments of this difficult project and explained the timeline and extent of the renovations needed.
The DC will have a new allergen-free area, a pizza oven and all-new kitchen equipment. Inside, new seating will consist of booths and round and square and booth tables. The elevator will lead to both the student and new event sections.
Outside, there will be a patio, having a capacity to seat 200 people. Heaters, fans and fire pits will be installed for the cooler and hotter months.
Although it is estimated to open on Dec. 1, not everything will be completed. The lower-level bathrooms will still be a work in progress until January. However, the bathrooms on the main upper level will be available. The elevator is projected to be completed by February.
The event center will be open for events in June, shortly after graduation. The outdoor patio will also require more work to be done.
Sutherland (‘82), being a Taylor graduate himself, believes the DC is not just a place where students eat but a place where they gather and engage in community. Because of his connection to Taylor students, he wanted to provide a way for them to see the progress by having an open house.
This is a complete renovation of a 50-year-old building that has housed thousands upon thousands of students over the years. The hope with this project is that the DC will become a place for intentional community, allowing students to live life to the full, Sutherland said.
“We’re really trying to set it up for the next 30 to 50 years of service, that it’d be another great facility for another 30 to 50 years,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland worked with Skip Trudeau, the vice president for student development. Trudeau reached out to sophomore Luke Beukelman, the facilities and maintenance subcommittee chair of Student Senate, to offer insight into things concerning maintenance. In his position, Beukelman provided a student perspective on many things that went into renovating the DC.
Trudeau asked Beukelman how to provide students with a view of the new DC. Beukelman suggested giving tours.
Beukelman knew students were curious about the renovations and would benefit from the sneak peak given by Sutherland who oversees construction at the executive level — the information would be coming straight from the source, Beukelman said.
Beukelman wanted students to see how the problems Taylor faced with the DC last year have not only been fixed but also built upon.
He especially thought it was a great opportunity for students to gain insight into the effort put into the construction by the administration.
“The administration doesn’t get enough credit for what they are doing,” Beukelman said.
In fact, staff volunteered to move everything out of the DC the Monday after senior graduation in May. Just a few days afterward, the construction team started renovating and has been working ever since.
Sutherland cannot say enough about the great work of the construction team and their dedication to the project. Asking them to completely renovate a building for millions of dollars over a span of about seven months, they agreed to work almost every Saturday, putting a lot of effort into the project.
“(The construction team) jumped in with both feet, and so I’m really encouraged that those working on the project saw how important it was,” Sutherland said.
The open house was a success with many students showing up to get a glimpse at all of the work that has been done to the DC. Eating at the DC when it is open will be another opportunity to view the final product and show your appreciation to the many people who have been a part of it.