Plan for new dining hall unveiled with emphasis on food freshness, heatlthy options

For two hours in the LSC atrium yesterday, Baton Rouge based Tipton Associates presented preliminary plans for a new dining hall on campus. Tipton Associates projects the dining hall will be completed in the fall of 2010.

The presentation featured a series of plans and photographs for students and faculty to annotate likes and dislikes with sticky notes, provided by the company. The photos included designs by Tipton Associates, as well as modern shots that appealed to the designers.

“We’re welcoming students to share their comments with us as we go through the design process,” Erin Morgan, project associate, said. “This is just our first pass at what this building is going to be.”

Although plans are still in the early stages, there will be multiple food options, including a bakery, salad bar, home style food, an international grill, and vegan and organic options.

The emphasis of the campaign is on freshness and cooking food just before serving, a practice not as frequently seen in campus dining.

The program “Real Foods on Campus” reflects the movement towards healthier eating habits and better quality food.

“Everything is prepared out in front of the student,” Morgan said. “It’s completely fresh. It’s not being made six hours ago in a kitchen somewhere.”

Following current trends, Aramark is moving to put into place more vegan and organic options for student diners. According to firm principal Darrin Badon, this is the first fresh food company effort in Texas, and one of about 20 in the nation.

“It’s consistent with the national trend to choose — to provide students today are a little bit more savvy and conscientious about where it’s grown , and Aramark does a good job, I think, of addressing and hearing out a lot of departments and research,” Badon said. “The concepts and the food we provide support the idea of individuals that eat different ways.”

The new dining hall will be located in place of existing structures on Bearkat Boulevard, scheduled for demolition. The ultimate goals are to incorporate environmentally friendly aspects into the plans, as well as work with the topography to create a unique structure.

The company is looking into sustainability as much as possible for the project, Badon said.

“We’re going to be looking at ways to be environmentally friendly in regards to the architecture and the engineering systems,” he said.

Compared to the existing food services on campus, the new dining hall will be a different experience.

“It’s going to blow [Belvin] away,” he said. “It’s going to be much like they’re going to a restaurant. This is not Belvin — all of a sudden we’re on a whole new level.”

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