A treasured piece of JMU's history and culture will soon become a figment of the past. Despite several pleas by students to keep and renovate the current building, Gibbons Hall's life will soon come to a close.
In the wake of structural concerns, Gibbons Hall, colloquially known as "D-Hall," will be torn down next week and replaced with a newer facility.
Completed in 1964 on an area of JMU once known as “back campus,” D-Hall’s unique circular structure evolved into a landmark and centerpiece of the university as the campus expanded around it in the years following its construction.
Recently, the building has required several infrastructure repairs, including but not limited to the plumbing system. JMU commissioned an architectural firm, Moseley Architects, several years ago to evaluate the building. At that point it was determined that the effective mode of action would be to rebuild the entire facility from scratch because of the state of the building’s framework.
“The infrastructure in it is worn out,” said Towana Moore, the associate vice president of business services. “You pretty much would have to gut the whole thing anyway in order to fix everything that needs to be fixed because it was built in the 60s. And, we need more capacity, so it just made sense to tear it down and start again.”
Bricks from the demolished structure will be set aside by Dining Services and sold as a fundraising campaign. Titled the “Bricks for Scholarships,” the money collected from the sold bricks will contribute to raise funds for the the Administration and Finance Scholarship, which alleviates expenses for children and relatives of staff within the division.
The new building, the name of which hasn’t been determined, will be three stories high. Sporting a square structure, a bluestone exterior and a red roof, the facility will more closely match the existing buildings on campus.
The first story is planned to include a commissary bakery, fitted with an oven that’s been a part of JMU since the original dining hall, Harrison Hall, was in use back in the mid-1900s. It will also feature a retail space that will include a Chick-fil-A, Qdoba, Steak ’n Shake, and Freshens Fresh Food Studio. Additionally, a portion of the floor will be dedicated to a restaurant similar to Market One, and will include a salad bar, deli, barbecue and a place to purchase coffee.
The second story will hold an expanded cafeteria-style buffet and outdoor balcony seating. The restaurant will include several different ethnic entree stations, including Spanish, Thai, Indian and Latin cuisines. Each area will include a “Chef 4 U” option for available dishes at each station, allowing the possibility for made-to-order options.
“The thing that’s going to be a little bit different from E-Hall is there’s a couple of stations that we can actually change out. Like, you can go from Asian cuisine to a different kind of cuisine — the graphics and everything can change,” Moore said.
The third story is planned to contain a space for banquets and university events.
While the new facility is being built on the site where D-Hall currently stands, a temporary structure located in parking lot R1 will serve as the impromptu place for students to eat a buffet-style meal on Main Campus. Named “D-Hub,” the facility will open on June 15th and offer a wide selection of food inside the building as well as grab-and-go windows.
Additionally, a second area near Moody Hall will include a tented Chick-fil-A accompanied by a Starbucks truck, a Mexican food truck and "Fueled," a student-organized Asian food truck.
During the launch party for the truck outside of D-Hall on Wednesday, April 27th, students got a sample of the Asian inspired cuisine that will be sold at Fueled. Students were also able to participate in a poll to choose from several tentative designs for Fueled, which were created as a project by six media arts and design majors as a class project.
The truck, which is the brainchild of senior kinesiology major Amanda Presgraves, will sell food created from supplies purchased from local farmers. While most of the food included on the planned menu share an Asian theme, the truck will slowly expand its menu through student input once it’s launched in the fall.
“Let’s say they have an idea, they want to bring on a recipe, or they want to create a project — this is the platform to do it. And so not only bringing in the communities, but optimizing and maximizing all the different skills of students around campus,” Presgraves said.
An interdisciplinary course, which will work closely with the truck, is also being discussed for the Spring 2017 semester. The course is planned to teach students how to implement and operate creative business projects.
The new facility is planned to open in Fall 2018 and will cost approximately 80.7 million dollars.
Contact Eric Daniel Legg at firstname.lastname@example.org.