With new food options, a more environmentally friendly layout and expanded dining areas, Santa Clara University’s (SCU) main hub is going to look very different when the fall quarter starts. The university is putting the finishing touches on an overhaul of the Benson Memorial Center.
“[Benson Center] really hasn’t been touched much in 55 years,” said Matt Cameron, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Life.
The nearly 16,000 sq. ft. Benson Center will look completely different when it reopens. The university has decided to go with an “open concept,” which means there will be no walls blocking the line of sight. The dining area will feature “exhibition cooking” and a coffee bar along with the normal fare.
“Now it’s much more of a retail environment,” said Cameron. “I think what’s really exciting is the different ways we deliver food; the different ways we deliver seating.”
The remodel has also made the building more environmentally friendly. Students now have the ability to eat in a glassed in dining area that will be lit mostly by natural light. The university has also carved out large sections of the floor in the dining hall to allow natural light to flow into the basement.
The entire project was funded through donations. The construction is being done by Build SJC, which has strong connections to the university. A few of the employees are SCU graduates, while the engineering intern on the project is a current Civil Engineering major at the university.
“It’s been an awesome summer for me,” said Peter Koros, Class of ’19. “Just seeing everything I’ve been studying actually implemented in the real world.”
Koros, who lives less than a block from the construction site, has spent the summer working on the Benson remodel. He says it’s helping him get a better idea of how he wants to use his degree when he graduates next spring. Until then, he plans to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
“I think the new variation of foods is what I’m actually really excited for,” said Koros. “Even though I don’t have a meal plan, I’m still going to maybe get an underclassman to buy me food so I can try it out.”
Construction is still going on today, but is expected to be completed by the time students return to campus.
This is just the latest in a series of construction projects at SCU. Earlier this year, the university opened up Charney Hall, the new building for Santa Clara Law School. Now, it is focused on updating the STEM building.