March 2, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 11

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    Renovations at Bartlett will include architectural preservation, addition of dining amenities

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Not since Jay Berwanger walked the halls of Bartlett Gymnasium has this fading architectural gem received so much attention. When its conversion to a new dining commons is complete, two centuries of Chicago students will be linked by its vibrancy––first as one of the most beautiful athletics centers in the country and finally as one of the most beautiful dining halls.

    “We are taking great care to preserve the historic character of the building,” said Curt Heuring, University Architect. Architectural elements from the carved, wooden staircase to the stained-glass window designed by Edward Sperry, an associate of Louis Comfort Tiffany, will remain, as will the suspended track around the perimeter of the basketball courts.

    The University is working with historic preservationist Henry Moss, whose firm, Bruner/Cott Associates Inc., is responsible for historic renovations on the campuses of Harvard University, MIT and Vanderbilt University.

    Although the historic front door of Bartlett that faces University Avenue will remain open, most people are expected to enter through a newly reopened west door, where a new quadrangle will increase foot traffic to and from the Joseph Regenstein Library, the new residence halls and Bartlett. A hallway from the new western entrance will lead diners across the first floor to the grand staircase, which will ascend to the dining commons on the second floor. A new elevator by the west door will provide access for anyone who is unable to use the stairs.

    The second floor will include a serving area at the south end and 550 seats at the north end. The first floor will include food storage areas and a food-preparation kitchen. Deliveries will be made early in the morning to a loading dock, which will be enclosed in a finely detailed collegiate gothic addition at the south end of the building.

    In anticipation of the new dining commons, Steve Klass, Deputy Dean of Student Services, initiated a series of dining surveys and student focus groups to determine what the new eatery might offer.

    “This is a brand new environment for us. It is the first time we will have a dining hall that is not located within a residence hall, so we want to make sure we have the broadest range of flexibility,” said Klass.

    He also hopes to make the new dining commons an option for the rest of the University community. Student Services is evaluating a lunchtime a la carte option, which would allow patrons to buy individual items as they would in a food court. Breakfast and dinner would continue to be priced according to the House Table Program’s all-you-care-to-eat prices.

    “We will be able to create a wide spectrum of food offerings, most of which will be prepared right in front of you,” said Klass. The most recent options under consideration are a pan-Asian serving island, which will include items such as sushi and stir-fry; a rotating multi-ethnic island with Caribbean, Mexican and Greek cuisine; a pizza hearth; a vegan section; and a dessert station.

    “We’ll serve comfort foods, too, such as hamburgers or rotisserie chicken,” said Klass. “An important point is that we will be doing all of this using the most recent food- preparation technologies, so we can serve food more efficiently and nutritiously.”

    Bruner/Cott Associates Inc. has completed its preliminary designs, with plans to finalize the construction documents next quarter. The renovation will begin this summer.