Students will have until December to enjoy their last meals at Jones Dining Hall before interior and exterior renovations on the building begin, which are expected to be complete by August 2016.
The interior of Jones will be completely renovated and new features, including a more distinct entrance, will be added to the outside of the dining hall. The renovation plan is expected to cost about $20 million over the course of 18 months, said Juan Guerra, associate vice president of facilities.
“There’s a large capital project under design to completely gut Jones and do a facelift of the entire building and replace all of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, kitchen—pretty much gut the building and start all over,” Guerra said.
Instead of demolishing Jones and starting construction from the ground up, the “shell” of the building will be retained, Guerra said. Improving some aspects of the building’s exterior and renovating the interior is the most cost-effective way to “spruce up” Jones, Guerra said.
Jones has been a staple on campus since the 1960s, and the renovations are much needed, said John Root, director of Auxiliary Services. Construction on the building will be “cosmetic” with the installation of new serving and seating areas and kitchen equipment, Root said.
“We do hope that when it reopens, the look and the concepts we put in there will attract people during the day and during lunchtime,” Root said.
Increasing attendance at Jones is a large reason for the remodel, Root said. The LBJ Student Center receives most of the lunchtime traffic and Jones’ “facelift” will hopefully “invite and entice” more students to eat at the dining hall instead, Root said.
Jones is the one of the only dining halls on campus open on weekends and does not close until midnight. The student center and other dining facilities will begin staying open on weekends to accommodate students once construction begins on Jones, Root said.
Only a few of the current Jones food vendors will be relocated once construction begins, and those that are not moved will be “discontinued during renovations,” Guerra said. The chosen vendors, who are still undecided, will be relocated to the LBJ Student Center and possibly other areas on campus, Guerra said.
Renovating Jones will give administrators the opportunity to possibly remove current vendors and add new ones in the future.
“I know Panda Express will be back, because that’s very popular, and I know at this point we’re talking about adding another national brand,” Root said.
Chartwells and maintenance employees currently located in Jones will be reassigned to other areas on campus during the renovations, Guerra said. Since most purchases in Jones are made via meal swipes, administrators do not expect to lose money when the dining hall is under construction, Root said.
Vanessa Cortez, Associated Student Government president, has been involved in the planning process for the project, and said she is “excited” for the upcoming renovations.
“It’s time for Jones to have a little ‘spruce up,’” Cortez said.
Discussions with architects and construction companies are beginning to take place concerning an “open flow” design, Guerra said. Architects and designers will solidify plans for the building before December, Root said.