Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has renovated the largest Dining Commons on its campus with the assistance of dining partner Sodexo and Dembling + Dembling Architects, P.C. Opened on August 25, the renovation changed the venue from an AYCTE self-serve facility into an AYCTE where food is served beautifully plated.
(Photo credit: Dembling + Dembling Architects, P.C./Architectural, Interiors and Food Service Design)
The transformed Commons features concepts such as Pacifica (authentic Cantonese, Thai and Korean fare), Chef’s Table, Simple Servings (everything free of the “Big 8” food allergens), Sauté (custom-crafted pasta bowls, omelets and stir-fry), Pizza Pasta (custom-made pizza, pasta and flatbreads), Bakery and U Cook, where customers choose their meal components and then make their own hand-crafted creations, including poaching eggs, with chef assistance.
Customer traffic has increased by 45% since last semester and social media posts about the Commons have transformed from critical to delighted, says Dawn Aubrey, executive director of Rensselaer Dining for Sodexo.
“The shared vision was to create a Best in Class program that created ‘communiversity’ where students, faculty, staff and guests can come together,” Aubrey explains. “We wanted to provide a space with unique elements that our students could not find elsewhere and create signature concepts for which the Commons will be known. We heard from students that customization and variety are important [and] that the interaction with the dining staff and the service provided was a strength of the existing program.”
The renovation project started on May 20th, less than two days after spring graduation and opened 90 days later with a brunch. It included a 4,200-square-foot building addition and expanded kitchen support areas for an overall 35% space increase of 5,076 square feet. Seating increased by more than 50% from 400 to 618 and the multi-station operation features nine distinct themed venues, each with customizable dishes prepared within sight of customers and served plated to them.
Here’s a visual tour of the new Rensselaer Dining Commons…