Renovations underway for Lentz Hall

By Tierra Carpenter, Daily Egyptian

Lentz Hall renovations, which began in February, are expected to be completed by fall, university officials say. 

Lentz is undergoing $1.4 million renovations paid for by University Housing, which is “operated through room and board funds,” said Crystal Bouhl, University Housing assistant director of marketing.

Eggemeyer Associates Architects in Carbondale are the designers for the project, while the SIU Physical Plant will carry out the plans.

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Eggemeyer has worked with SIU for 15 to 20 years, including on the renovation of Trueblood Hall.

Mark Dillon, president of Eggemeyer, said the company assessed what changes needed to be made by visiting the dining hall when it was busy, and watching how students move through space and how food is served. Then they made recommendations to dining services and worked with them to come up with the new design.

According to a University Housing press release, Peggy Connors, associate director of university housing, said the reasons behind the renovations are poor layout of service stations and equipment that has not been updated in 25 years.

She said with the large number of customers, the dining hall’s traffic flow can become congested.

Alex Nagy, a sophomore from Aurora studying anthropology, said he noticed congestion in Lentz, at noon everyday, and when the hall is serving popular foods.

“Typically on specific days, like chicken nugget day, there is a large amount of congestion that flows all the way out of the building,” he said.

The press release also states the renovated dining hall serving areas will include new food serving stations such as a bigger salad bar, deli and dessert station, pizza and pasta counter and a cook-to-order station.

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There will also be a self-service pantry in the serving area that will offer a variety of cereals.

Instead, Veronica Kleber, a sophomore from Grayslake studying mechanical engineering suggested University Housing make use of the amount of usable food stations the dining hall already has.

“In one of the dining rooms, there used to be another food serving station that had a small salad bar,” she said. “Even something like that would open it up a little bit more.”

While there will not be any changes to the meal plan, “The newly renovated dining hall will significantly improve the quality of undergraduate housing for SIU Carbondale students on campus,” the release stated. 

Connors said during the renovation, business will continue as usual. However, some students say the work is disruptive and won’t solve student dining concerns.

Kaitlyn Delaney, a sophomore from Wood Dale studying early childhood education, said having one of the overflow rooms closed during the renovation is problematic.

“It made it way more crowded,” Delaney said. “Sometimes when I come in here during lunch time, I can’t seem to find anywhere to sit, and it takes up more of my time that I have to get to class.”

Also, several students said they would like to see the Lakeside Express come back. Lakeside Express was a store inside Lentz that allowed students to convert their dining plan into points, and use those points to purchase food that they were allowed to carry out of the dining hall.

There was a similar store on the east side of campus, called Eastside Express, and they were both removed from the campus after the Spring 2014 semester when the Saluki Anytime Plan was built into residence hall contracts.

The new meal plan allows students unlimited access to the dining halls, but does not allow students to take food outside.

Kleber said the express shops were convenient for students.

“Lakeside Express was a great way for students to be able to access groceries and not have to go all the way to the store, especially for students who don’t have cars,” she said. “They took away a big privilege the students had.”

As of now there are no plans to reopen the expresses, Bouhl said.

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