Putnam Dining Hall renovations set to begin in the coming weeks

UConn students walk past construction on the new STEM residence hall near the Putnam Refectory on Sept. 1, 2015. Construction on the refectory is slated to begin in the coming weeks, with the dining hall scheduled to reopen in 2016. (Erika Elechicon/The Daily Campus)

Construction will begin on the Putnam Refectory in the coming weeks as the university plans to re-open the dining hall with double the seating and a smoothie bar in fall 2016.

With the new STEM residence hall being built to house close to 765 students, renovations to Putnam were desperately needed, dining services director Dennis Pierce said. The current layout only seats 300 people, not nearly sufficient for the influx of new students.

The Putnam Grab-and-Go, which Pierce said has not been very successful, will be removed to provide the additional seating space.

The design will include upstairs and downstairs seating with a stairway in the middle, Pierce said.

Pierce said dining services has been in contact with the department of fine arts, which has agreed to create a student-made mobile to hang at the bottom of the stairs.

A kiosk is being built upstairs where students can choose different fruits and vegetables as ingredients for a smoothie, Pierce said. Students will give the ingredients to worker who will add juice, supplements and additives before blending the smoothie.

We are very adamant about having it reopen for fall of 2016, with all of the new students moving into the new STEM building.
— UConn Dining Services director Dennis Pierce, on the plan for the Putnam Dining Hall renovations.

“We took this idea from Stanford University,” Pierce said. “Students who were familiar with this said that UConn needed to have one, too, and we do.”

The second floor will also hold an additional salad bar, beverage dispenser and counters, Pierce said. New air conditioning units and lighting will also be installed.

“We didn’t have to do anything significant to kitchen other than add refrigeration space because when kitchen was designed it was designed to accommodate three towers, and the third tower was never built,” Pierce said.

Furthermore, Pierce said dining services saw a need for an additional function space, so that will be added downstairs. This space can be reserved for presentations, meetings and potentially will be used to do culinary demonstrations.

“The space right now is pretty much the same as last year, except it’s opened up more, so there isn’t a space for grab-and-go,” third-semester engineering major and Garrigus resident Lizzy Lagoy said. “I probably will miss the grab-and-go. I went there a lot last year since Putnam doesn’t offer late night.”

Pierce said that dining services is considering keeping Putnam open during late night hours once it reopens in the fall, but nothing is official at this time.

As of now, there is no definitive schedule for when Putnam will close for construction. Bids to hire a construction firm were due last week, Pierce said, but another firm has already completed all the prep work.

So far this year, Lagoy said she could not hear any construction from the project. However, last year when Lagoy lived in Hilltop, the construction woke up her building often with construction lasting from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 “We are very adamant about having it reopen for fall of 2016, with all of the new students moving into the new STEM building,” Pierce said.


Emma Krueger is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.krueger@uconn.edu.