ISR to expand dining hall, services


Bang Nguyen

ISR dining hall located on W. Illinois St, Urbana. The building is going to expand seating and include services such as a satellite counseling center by the summer of 2020.

By Aaron Brannen, Staff writer

The University announced earlier this month the dining hall facility of Illinois Street Residence Halls will be undergoing a two-year period of renovations, beginning in the summer of 2018 and ending in the summer of 2020.

According to University Housing Director Alma Sealine, the main reason for these renovations is the inability to properly facilitate the high volume of students that eat there on a regular basis.

“(There are) currently 750 seats in ISR,” Sealine said. “That is the largest capacity that we have, and we are averaging, for lunch and dinners, 2,000 individuals, and so we have run out of capacity to serve our students effectively.”

To correct this problem, the dining area will be expanded to seat 1,385, which in turn “expands the programmatic space for ISR.” This new space will be used to accommodate nine new restaurants, new multipurpose rooms, a fitness center, a meditation center and a Counseling Center satellite office.

Some people have speculated that the purpose of this renovation also has to do with improving the dining experience and attracting more patrons to the facility.

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    “ISR was very hit or miss,” said Zoriamin Rivera, sophomore in LAS. “Often, the food was underwhelming. The lighting was very dim, creating a sort of gloomy environment compared to Ikenberry.”

    The renovations go further than seating more students.

    “It is important for the University to update its buildings every once in a while so they don’t look old, ugly and outdated,” said Abby Peterson, junior in FAA. “If our buildings look old and ugly, then students aren’t going to want to go here and the University might end up getting less funding. It is clear that they seem to be going for a more modern and open design.”

    As a resident of ISR, Rivera said, “There is a reason why those of other residence halls did not come to eat there as a first choice. I would say that this might be another reason for the new renovations.”

    During the two-year project, ISR residents and patrons will not have access to a full-fledged dining hall in the facility, although Sealine confirmed that residents will continue to be housed in Townsend Hall and Wardell Hall over this period and are in no danger of being displaced.

    University Housing confirmed that a temporary and limited dining location will be constructed nearby to offset the lack of a centralized dining area for students living around ISR.

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