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Recent KUC lobby renovation offers students modern...

Recent KUC lobby renovation offers students modern space to gather, study

The renovated Keathley University Center lobby at Middle Tennessee State University features a contemporary design with True-blue accents and seating for students to catch up on homework or catch up with friends captured here on Feb. 5, 2021. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Lobby renovation in the Keathley University Center, also known as the KUC, is essentially complete, the second renovation project this school year that the university completed in contract with food provider company Aramark.

Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications

Andrew Oppmann

The State Building Commission approved the project last November and construction began in early December, said university spokesman Andrew Oppmann, vice president of marketing and communications. Total cost for the project, funded by Aramark, was $296,888.

The two-step project moved and transformed the original locations of the McCallie Dining Hall and the KUC Grill, Oppmann said. The first step of the contracted renovation updated the food service location at Corlew Hall.

“Aramark’s food service contract … renovate(d) the food service location at Corlew Hall, which opened in the fall 2020 semester,” Oppmann explained. “That space was renamed to The Middle at Corlew” and originally housed the McCallie Dining Hall.

The recently renovated Keathley University Center lobby at Middle Tennessee State University showcases modern design features like the new, marble-effect information desk to create a functional and student-centered space pictured here on Feb. 5, 2021. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

The recently renovated Keathley University Center lobby at Middle Tennessee State University showcases modern design features like the new, marble-effect information desk to create a functional and student-centered space pictured here on Feb. 5, 2021. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

The Middle at Corlew features a food court with a Chick-Fil-A, Pizza Hut, Subway, a market with grab-and-go convenience foods and more, along with seating and dining areas.

This second phase of the renovation moved the McCallie Dining Hall to KUC, in addition to updating the KUC lobby, which was built in 1967.

“The renovation will provide students with common space to gather, study and socialize in between classes,” said Sarah Sudak, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “The space will also provide overflow seating for patrons of the Brewed Awakenings retail coffee venue and waiting space for people participating in KUC Theater events.”

The remodeled lobby showcases a long, sleek information desk, spacious lounge area and new wood flooring.

Students took advantage of the newly renovated Keathley University Center lobby at Middle Tennessee State University on Feb. 5, 2021, a place for students to gather, study and socialize in between classes. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

Students took advantage of the newly renovated Keathley University Center lobby at Middle Tennessee State University on Feb. 5, 2021, a place for students to gather, study and socialize in between classes. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

“The renovations will align with the upgrades that occurred in the KUC Grill (now The Middle at Corlew Hall) this summer, so there will be a consistent aesthetic between both spaces,” Sudak said. “The lobby renovation will open the space to provide better flow to the second-floor offices.”

Aramark revamps service due to COVID-19

Edward Gilbert, senior unit controller for Aramark, shared the safety protocols the company has implemented for MT Dining in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

New floor decals spaced out every six feet, posters and detailed signage communicate mandated safety guidelines, Gilbert said.

The recent renovation of the Keathley University Center lobby at Middle Tennessee State University updated the space for the first time since 1967 with wood floors, a large, modern information desk, multiple seating areas and a dark blue accent wall pictured here on Feb. 5, 2021. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

The recent renovation of the Keathley University Center lobby at Middle Tennessee State University updated the space for the first time since 1967 with wood floors, a large, modern information desk, multiple seating areas and a dark blue accent wall pictured here on Feb. 5, 2021. (MTSU photo by Stephanie Barrette)

To reduce wait times and person-to-person contact, the company introduced new menus, to-go boxes for carry-out meals, QR codes to reduce touch points and Grubhub mobile ordering, Gilbert said. Dining areas across campus also have individually wrapped packets of utensils and condiments and additional hand sanitizer units.

To serve students in quarantine, MT Dining works with Student Affairs to provide meals that can meet any dietary need, Gilbert said.

“100% of MT dining employees wear masks and receive temperature checks when arriving for work each day,” Gilbert said. “Additional cleaning for ‘high touch’ surfaces is being performed throughout the day…. We have developed an extensive on-boarding and training to enable our team members to return to work.”

“I’m excited that MTSU was able to partner with Aramark to make this renovation possible,” Sudak said. “Opening up the lobby to improve access and designing the space to align with McCallie will create a functional, student-centered space that will serve students and the University well now and into the future.”

Both the Middle at Corlew and McCallie Dining Hall reopened in January in time for the start of the spring semester.

For the latest information on campus dining, visit the MT Dining website.

— Stephanie Barrette (Stephanie.Barrette@mtsu.edu)


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