Alaska college opens $28 million dining hall

The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ dining center was built with private-public funding and will revert back to university ownership after it’s paid back from revenues generated at the hall.

FAIRBANKS, Ala.—The University of Alaska Fairbanks unveiled a new dining facility in the Wood Center on Friday, touting the $28 million project as an innovative template for campus construction in the future.

As piano music tinkled in the background, a crowd of administrators, staff and students roamed through the expansive new facility, which is decorated in modern tones of black, white and pale wood. The 46,000-square-foot addition to the Wood Center will host two new dining areas, dubbed “Arctic Java” and “Dine 49.”

“This’ll be a place to be and to be seen,” said Wood Center Director Lydia Anderson. “It’ll be a hub for campus life.”

The unorthodox approach to the project also could change UAF’s approach to campus building projects. It emerged from a public-private partnership, with the nonprofit National Development Council financing the Wood Center expansion.

The Wood Center expansion was completed with no state funding. Instead, revenues from dining services will gradually repay the debt, with the facility reverting back to UAF ownership when it’s paid off.

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