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.

More From FoodService Director

Menu Development
health food medicine stethoscope

For the last two years, Chris Studtmann has jockeyed between Northwestern University’s residential dining halls and athletic training tables in his role of executive chef, trying to meet the health and food preferences of both sides. Now, his team is taking best practices developed for the sports teams to the 20,000-plus student population, working with dietitians from the school’s contract company to better sync healthy menu choices with lifestyle needs.

Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report shows younger consumers are especially tuned in to functional foods that...

Ideas and Innovation
trail mix

We’ve added fueling stations in our units for our workers who didn’t have time to eat or just need a snack. We have areas set up with trail mix, crackers, cookies and water. It helps us avoid people feeling or getting ill, especially when we get closer to exam periods and student workers are studying and not taking the time to eat.

Ideas and Innovation
reusable coffee cup thermos

We were inspired by a book titled “Influence” to start a sustainable cup program called My Cup. All 15,000 new students receive a reusable cup with their name on it, which they can use at the dining halls. Personalizing helps them invest in the program and actually use it.

Menu Development
quinoa bowl

In a time of growing health consciousness, it might not be enough anymore for food to be merely filling. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report , diners are looking for food with a function, such as those with high protein content, immunity-boosting properties, antioxidants, probiotics and more. The data suggests 63% of consumers see these foods as healthier than those without any specific nutritional function—and would be more likely to buy them.

But are those stated preferences translating on an operational level? There, the answer is less clear. Baby...

FSD Resources