Dining hall plans for first major remodel in over three decades
The Santa Clara
September 28, 2017
Benson Memorial Center first opened its doors in 1964 and has remained largely unchanged since.
That is, until this upcoming summer.
Matt Cameron, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Life, believes now is the time to adjust student dining, as the student population has significantly increased in the past 50 years.
“Some things have changed,” said Cameron. “It’s time.”
The only modification in terms of square footage to Benson Memorial Center was the addition of Shapell Lounge and the Bronco Corner bookstore in 1985.
The Benson remodel project has been separated into two phases.
Phase one includes a remodeling of the main floor, an expansion of the basement’s Cellar Market and a redesign of the loading docks on the backside of Benson.
The expansion of the Cellar will allow for a wider selection of items and bigger inventory, while the remodeling of the loading docks will make it easier for vendor vehicles to deliver to Benson.
Phase two consists of a significant addition to the west side of Benson in the form of event and meeting spaces. Currently, there is no timeline or funding in place.
This past summer, behind-the-scenes work to assist the Benson remodel was completed. Additionally, steering committees of students, faculty and staff have given input in the past year to help address the future improvements of the Benson remodeling.
Jeanne Rosenberger, Vice Provost for Student Life and Dean of Students, oversees one of those parent committees.
“Our goal is to provide appropriate dining, as well as space for gathering and community building,” Rosenberger said.
Part of this area will include neighborhood seating with different options of tables, chairs and lounge seating in groups to facilitate meeting spaces.
However, one obstacle in the way of these open gathering spaces in Benson, according to Rosenberger, is the wall separating Mission Bakery from the Marketplace. This wall will come down in the remodel to encompass one shared space in Benson.
Additionally, the Bronco patio will be converted into indoor dining space. Reducing the congestion in lines is another priority in redesigning the main floor of Benson.
There will also be an additional openings running east to west in the main floor of Benson, so windows of activity in the basement can be seen from above. This will also allow natural light to shine into the basement.
After the remodel, Benson will be better equipped to accommodate a larger population, helping the university’s goal to expand the undergraduate student population by 600 students by fall 2020.
This will be supplemented by the addition of a south residence hall.
Another goal is to reach off-campus students by making Benson more of a university-wide student hub.
Cameron aims to change the culture of Benson to create a more magnetic atmosphere. No longer will dining simply be transnational; Benson will be a place students will want to linger, according to Cameron.
“It’s the intersection of where students live and learn, where their lives intertwine. That’s what this is about,” Cameron said.
The conversion of the Bronco patio is tentatively planned to begin construction in February 2018.
The first portion of phase one, remodeling the main floor, will begin construction at the beginning of summer 2018 and is scheduled to be completed once school begins next fall.
Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554- 4852