The onset of fall isn’t the only prominent change students will see at JMU within the next couple of weeks. Starting today, construction will begin on D-Hub, the temporary replacement of D-Hall.
For the past 51 years, Gibbons Hall, commonly known on campus as D-Hall, has been somewhat of a legacy within JMU. The passage of time has caused a natural degradation to the circular structure of D-Hall, particularly in terms of plumbing issues, according to Bill Wyatt, JMU’s senior director of communications.
Some could argue that D-Hall, which also houses Chick-fil-A, Market 1, Let’s Go! Local and Einstein Bros. Bagels, is in need of some serious renovations. So, the main question for the university was whether to repair or reconstruct the facility.
“Basically, the university has done a cost-benefit analysis and has determined that it’s more beneficial to replace D-Hall with a new building than it is to renovate it,” Wyatt said.
While Wyatt said the reconstruction of D-Hall will certainly be quite the spectacle during the 2016 and 2017 school years. In the meantime, D-Hub will stand in its place.
“The purpose of D-Hub is basically a temporary dining facility that is being constructed so that this time next year when D-Hall’s torn down, we have a place to actually feed the students,” Wyatt said.
Construction on the building will begin in the R1 parking lot behind the Village, starting with the process of fencing in half of the parking spaces where the building and construction materials will be situated.
One third, or about 230 out of the total 684, R1 spaces will be taken away from the current lot once D-Hub is open for business in June 2016. To compensate for the lost spots, a shuttle will run from the R11 lot where Rockingham Hall used to be to the steps
of Godwin Hall, according to Wyatt.
This shuttle will run every half an hour from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays provided that enough students maintain frequent ridership. Finally, in addition to JMU’s shuttle, the Harrisonburg transit system runs through the R11 lot as well, delivering yet another alternative to students.
“We understand it’s not right where our want is, but there is parking available and so we’re just asking people to kind of plan ahead, and we appreciate their patience” Wyatt said.
With the issues of parking aside, the plans for D-Hub involve some pretty exciting features, according to Wyatt. The structure of the facility itself is something entirely different to the JMU community.
“I know the University of Virginia had something similar; I know we were sort of getting started on the project and some of our administrators toured one at Harvard and from my understanding, they’re pretty nice facilities,” Wyatt said.
The arrangement involves a sort of climate-controlled, tent-like structure, with a 1,000-seat dining area surrounded on the sides and back with the various kitchens. These stations will actually house the current kitchen equipment from D-Hall, saving the university considerable time and resources.
In terms of decor, the university hopes to add some touches reminiscent of D-Hall to preserve a small portion of its legacy through the renovation process, such as similar color schemes, lighting and seating designs.
Besides the structure, the food offerings inside D-Hub will be a blend of old and new.
“It will offer all of the traditional D-Hall items — pizza, pasta, burgers, the entree station, salad bar, deli and, of course, desserts,” Stephanie Hoshower, JMU dining’s resident district manager, said.
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options will be on the menu as well. Some changes made to the standard menu include the addition of a Mexican station as well as two walk-up windows for carry-out items like pizza and burgers. This will be a take-out process similar to the service at PC Dukes and Top Dog. People can order food from the vendors and package them to go.
D-Hub will only replace the food from D-Hall; to the dismay of some students, it won’t include any of the other eateries including Market 1, Let’s Go! Local and Einstein Bros. Bagels. But some of these offerings will be available in a second temporary location behind Moody Hall, which is in relative proximity to the old building. That location will house a temporary Chick-fil-A and a food truck hub composed of the Starbucks truck and two other food trucks.
“We are working with the Student Government Association Food and Dining Committee and another group of students to determine what those food trucks will offer,” Hoshower said.
Some members of the student body, especially those living on campus, have expressed uncertainty regarding the upcoming plans for dining options.
“I think that D-Hall needs a lot of work, but it’s going to complicate things for students,” Emily Anderson-Vanbersluys, a freshman undeclared major, said.
While students housed in the Village will have the convenience of a nearby dining facility, students located on the Quad will have to adjust their schedules to accommodate a dining hall located further away than what they’re accustomed to. Concerns over hours of operation are also prevalent among some students.
“I think it’s going to conflict with schedules, especially because places like Market are convenient,” Mirella Lopez, a freshman nursing major, said.
JMU is confident that all doubts regarding both the temporary locations and the new D-Hall will subside once the projects are underway and people begin to embrace the changes.
“Any time there’s change on campus, it takes some time to get used to … but in the end, I think based on facilities that we do have, we all know deep down in our hearts that it’s going to be a pretty spectacular place once it’s done,” Wyatt said. “Just like E-Hall, it didn’t take people very long to get used to that one, so I think people will be pleased with the end product.”
Contact Nicolette Chuss at email@example.com