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As Dining Hall Renovated, Temp Dining Begins in Ford

As Dining Hall Renovated, Temp Dining Begins in Ford

As Dining Hall Renovated, Temp Dining Begins in Ford


Student band MB140 perfomed on a new, permenant stage in the middle of the Ford Food Court to celebrate its opening.

Contributing Writer

January 18, 2024

Eden Selassie '25

The old Dining Hall was used by community members for over 75 years. The space originally sat 342 people, at a time when the student body was around 360 students. 

Currently, about 600 students and more than 200 faculty and staff eat meals at the school every day. “[The old Dining Hall] is a historic place, but it doesn’t fit us and accommodate our needs,” said Mrs. Lisa Brown, chief of staff to the head of school. 

Mr. Mike Webster, director of dining services, noted, “The infrastructure was crumbling, essentially. There were some updates to electrical and plumbing things over the years.” However, they were not adequate to keep up with the growing community. Mr. Craig Bradley, head of school, said, “The renovation is the biggest project we’ve undertaken in decades. The last big project like this would’ve been the MAC, which was 18 years ago. The Dining Hall is a more complicated project, because it’s a renovation of a facility with lots of infrastructure. That building functions like a machine, with lots of moving parts—literally.” 

Planning for the renovation began in earnest about six years ago, however the pandemic delayed the project. Mr. Bradley said, “We decided before the pandemic to make this a priority in terms of our fundraising. We started fundraising in a concentrated way following the pandemic.” 

Administrators considered multiple locations for the temporary dining facility, which will be used until the opening of the renovated Dining Hall. Mr. Bradley said, “One thought was to build a new dining hall somewhere else on campus, like on the volleyball courts or on the other side of Watson.” Mr. Andrew D’Ambrosio, dean of students, said, “We considering doing it in Memorial Quad so students wouldn’t have to walk that far. However that option was all trailers that were maybe 7 feet tall and would only seat 300 kids at a time. That felt like a miserable experience, so we reconsidered Ford.” 

After a schoolwide vote, the temporary facility was christened the Food Ford Court, or FFC. When planning what would go into the space, administrators thought about how they would make the longer walk feel worthwhile. Painters brightened the walls from dark green to a variety of greens and blues and added additional overhead lighting to brighten the space. A student committee created to help design the space suggested moving the ping-pong and foosball tables from the Student Center to Ford. 

Construction of the FFC and mobile food preparation trailers was completed in only three months. Some areas of the project have experienced operational challenges. Dining Services staff member Christi Tweed said, “We even had some rain the other night in the kitchen.” Mr. Webster said, “I think one of our biggest challenges has been the trailers with the dishwashers not being fully operational. We actually stole a dishwasher from the farm just to get something on-site, but it is a very small unit.” Currently, the FFC is using disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. Some operational issues were expected. Mr. Webster said, “All of the electrical and plumbing issues are unsurprising. This whole thing was created within a matter of a month or three.” 

Construction on the new Dining Hall started over Winter break. Rooms near the Snack Bar have been affected by the work. Dining Services employee Chris Cresser said, “They did disconnect the water; we used to have a big table that we could work on in the back; we have one less freezer.” Petal Hammam ’25 said, “The ambiance is really awesome—I can’t believe how much work got done in such a short period of time.” 

Abigail Gugsa ’24 said, “While I was initially worried about the walk to the FFC, the space and the performances have made it worth it. Overall, it’s definitely better than I expected.” The new Dining Hall will open in the fall of 2025, when current Lower Mids are Seniors.

Eden Selassie is a contributing writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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