Ryan Hall isn’t your mother or father’s cafeteria.
Long a gathering place at Confederation College, the once institutional look is gone, erased and replaced over the summer with a million-dollar facelift to make it a more user-friendly, welcoming environment.
From the chef’s corner and its home-style meals, to the pizza station and wood-fired oven custom-made for the cafeteria, Student Union of Confederation College Inc. president Katie Arpin said the retrofit is a vast improvement over the old Ryan Hall.
“It was a dark, dreary place and it definitely needed a facelift,” Arpin said Tuesday at the official unveiling of the new cafeteria, which has been open since student returned to school last month.
“Having the new renovations is just beautiful. It’s inviting.”
Arpin added even the smallest detail has been thought out.
In addition to healthier food choices, including a sushi station and Pita Pit – and the obligatory, and expanded, Tim Hortons outlet – the space has been designed with the students’ needs in mind.
“They have plug-ins at all the booths, which is great for our students because they are able to plug in their computers so they’re not running around looking for a power source in a time of need when their computer is going to shut down and they have to finish a project. It adds functionality to this whole area,” Arpin said.
The idea suits the vision school officials had two years ago when they first seriously began thinking about reinventing Ryan Hall.
Bob Backstrom, vice-president of student and corporate services, said when the request for proposals went out last year, they told prospective partners they wanted something different, to stray from the traditional.
“We were looking for something that really focused on the students,” Backstrom said. “Traditional requests for proposals would emphasize how much money we were getting. Ours emphasized the quality of the product we were getting, their reputation and if we liked their student philosophy.”
Saffron Sri, director of retail support for Sodexo Canada, said the company’s vision was focused solely on the student experience.
“Socializing, learning and obviously enjoying food. At the same time (we wanted) somewhere they could be a part of the community and engage with the rest of the campus and be involved. We wanted to create a hub in a space that was primarily used for food service,” he said.
The open concept was carefully chosen. Students can not only see each other, but they can also see how their food is being prepared. Brighter colours were chosen for the walls and accents, and even the flooring was picked for its sound-muffling abilities.
The rotunda at the entrance alters the way students hear their own voices.
“That was done so that students take a mental break when they come here from their classes. When they walk through the doors they sound different and it makes a mental alert that they’re in a different space and hence they think differently and they relax a bit more,” Sri said.
The partnership also included renovations and improvement to food service areas in several other on-campus buildings.
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