As soon as Commencement ended and most students left for home, construction began in various sites all over the River Campus. The Hive on the third floor of Wilson Commons moved to the first floor, replacing the Common Ground Cafe. Where the Hive formerly resided, Starbucks moved in. In ITC, construction began to create a new dining area and the library area above it began its renovation. The sites, as they begin to open, promise new academic, recreational and dining options.
Three new sites that have already opened are the Pura Vida coffee shop in Goergen Hall, and the Starbucks and the new Hive in Wilson Commons. The Pura Vida opened on May 29 and is open Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Starbucks opened on Monday after a summer of redesigning the Hive. The project began after graduation and was completed on Aug. 10.
“It’s identical to a real Starbucks, so it has that same atmosphere,” junior Brian Magee said. “It is a great addition to the campus dining experience.”
Following the completion of the space, students and supervisors – some who previously worked at Common Ground – took a two-week training course, learning how to make all the different drinks.
The hours for the Starbucks are 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. – it opens an hour and a half earlier and closes a half hour later than Common Ground did.
“The space is really beautiful, everyone who sees it is wowed,” Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf said.
The games that were formally in the Hive and the game room right outside have been moved downstairs into the space that was the Common Ground. According to Student Activities Special Projects Coordinator Jeremy Mravlja, when completing the renovations, a school spirit theme was chosen. The walls were painted blue and gold and the athletics department will be donating old jerseys and photographs.
The games in the new room include free Wii and Xbox 360, a classic dartboard, foosball table, 3 arcade games – Pump It Up, pinball and a classic arcade cabinet with 43 games including Pac-man – three billiards tables with new blue felt and a large selection of board games.
The game room outside of Starbucks is being transformed into a lounge.
According to Schauf, the area has a new carpet, paint and furniture, which is still being put in. It is expected to be complete by the first week in September.
The plans to create an Einstein Bros. Bagels in ITS have been less successful.
“As we moved ahead with construction plans, costs ballooned,” Schauf said. “It was a lot more expensive than we thought it was going to be. Building a food service operation in a building not designed for food can really increase the cost, and until you dig in you can’t really know how expensive it is going to be.”
Rather than press on with construction, Dining Services decided to switch gears to a dining area that did not need to prepare hot food.
“We went back to the drawing board, thought about the things we had heard from students and came up with a concept called Connections,” Schauf said. “It will be a dining area that will feature local foods.”
While the Connections menu is still being developed, it will include bowls of fresh salads, sandwiches, bagels and baked goods. The menu will feature as much Rochester-grown food as possible and FreshLink Farms will be supplying the greens. FreshLink is the farm extension of FoodLink. Because it is a hydroponic farm, a lot of the products are available year round. However, according to Schauf, the menu will be changing seasonally.
The area around Connections will have a few seats, but it will be geared toward taking food elsewhere. Although some food will be prepackaged, it will mostly be made on site.
“I was really excited about the Einstein’s. I think bringing well-known brands to our dining options can be a really good idea,” Junior Rachel Shapiro said. “But, eating local is really important too, and if Connections can have both high quality food and local food, everyone benefits.”
Only declining will be accepted at Connections, and, because of the stopping and starting of construction, it will not be open until Nov. 1.
More construction is underway right above ITC in Rush Rhees Library, renovating 20,000 square feet of office space into a collaborative study area for UR students. The $5 million project is due to finish in time for a Meliora Weekend premier. The new space will include group and private study areas, a media lounge and meeting rooms. It will also be connected to ITC and open 24 hours.
“Thank God, after three years my dreams have finally come true,” senior Brad Goldberg said. “A place that I can study all hours of the day! For years I tried to study in Gilbert lounges and my fraternity house, but that never worked. Seriously though, it’s good to see the school is taking input from the students in creating this space. A collaborative work area is very much in need.”
Students, faculty and staff alike are excited for the renovations and the different opportunities they will bring when they are all complete.
“The construction is amazing,” Associate Dean of Students Anne-Marie Algier said. “The new Starbucks, game room and lounge should be big enhancements to student life on campus. It is exciting to have so many great new spaces for members of the campus community to interact.”
Jarrett is a member of the class of 2009.