Wood Center renovations will offer new dining services

Alan Fearns/Sun Star Reporter
April 9, 2013

A graphic of what the Wood Center will look like when the construction is completed. Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

A graphic of what the Wood Center will look like when the construction is completed. Photo courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

During the ’70s the William Ransom Wood Center was built between Tanana and Chandalar Drive.  On Mar. 30, officials broke ground in celebration of a 34,000 square-foot expansion, estimated for completion in the fall semester of 2014.

The future Wood Center will see new administration offices, a coffee shop and re-launched student dining facility above.

“I’m getting tired of eating at the Tilly,” said Brian Baart, a Moore Hall resident that uses the campus meal plan.

The new dining facility will replace the main campus cafeteria, Lola Tilly Commons.  Project manager Jenny Campbell, plans for it to offer “marche” style dining.  “Marche,” French for market, is a dining concept where students will be able to choose their dishes and have them prepared on site.  Other universities have been moving toward this method to provide fresher dining options to students. The total project will be funded with a $30.7 million  from a private partner.

“It’s really going to transform that whole area over there,” said Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer.

Computer graphic architectural renditions of the Wood Center expansion show the new dining facility joined with the food court through the gap where Taco Bell currently operates.  However, the previous Polar Perk location may be used as the path between the two areas.

The new ground level coffee shop is still in its early development, but is expected to be a larger area than the current one at Polar Perk.

“It’s pretty exciting, everything is going to be in one place,” Grimes said.

Petroleum Engineering student Devante Owens, is concerned about overcrowding from the occupants who would normally be at Lola Tilly.

“I hope it doesn’t get too packed, sometimes I can’t find a place to sit even by the couches,” Owens said.

Plans are still subject to change even during construction.  This can be seen in the Wood Center past construction, with its original three-story plan that created “the crow’s nest” in the building’s center.

After the project is complete, Grimes suspects leadership and other campus groups will be able to input ideas for using of Lola Tilly’s building.

“There are lots of possibilities–I’ve heard more than I can list.  We will come up with something that makes the most sense for that facility,” Grimes said.

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