UNM’s on-campus dining facility began renovations in April and is currently making progress to open its doors to students right before the beginning of the next semester.

The design phase for the renovation of La Posada lasted almost two years, said Paul Wilson-Scott, Resident District Manager for Chartwells, the company that manages the dining hall.

The designs made with UNM and the architectural team will include made-to-order areas, which is one of the current floor dining trends, Wilson-Scott said. To continue to keep up with the trend, there will be more made-to-order areas throughout the facility.

The schedule for construction is tight and is expected to continue through the student move-in dates, he said.

The renovations are pretty dramatic, Wilson-Scott said, but after recently viewing their progress, he said they look great.

By Kevin Maestas @ChunkFu_Kevin

Paul Wilson-Scott, Resident District Manager of Chartwells, strolls through the food prep stations located in La Posada Dining Hall on Saturday June 24, 2017. The cafeteria adjacent to many UNM dormitories is undergoing a summer long renovation.

“I’m really excited. I think it will add a lot of value to all of our existing students and to the new students,” Wilson-Scott said. “It’s going to be a really fresh look that’s going to blow people away. I think it’s going to be awesome.”

The influence for many of the renovations came from meeting with student groups that use La Posada and asking what they wanted to see in their dining hall, he said.

“La Posada was built in 1969 and has had a couple of small changes over the years, but this is a major remodel to kind of upgrade it and modernize it,” Wilson-Scott said.

La Posada’s HVAC is also being upgraded to make the building much more fuel efficient for utilities, with LED lighting being added to save on electricity, he said.

“So, there (are) some design pieces besides the fun food piece that are modernizing that building to make a much more environmentally sound unit,” Wilson-Scott said.

Director of UNM Food Services Tim Backes said they are trying to improve the living experience on campus as a whole, and that includes both housing and dining.

“Chartwells worked with us on partnering to do a 24-hour facility which is very, very unheard of in higher education,” Backes said. “We want a place where students can go at 2 o’clock in the morning and feel safe, be able to study and have something to eat.”

This is to improve the overall collegiate experience on campus, Brakes said.

“It’s gotten to the point that it’s a proven fact that people do pick their colleges because of their food service programs,” he said. “I mean it’s not as high up there as academics, but it’s certainly as high up there as, ‘I want them to have a winning sports team,’ and it is a factor in recruitment.”

Making La Posada modern and attractive to new students and to students already living on campus will be a big change, Wilson-Scott said.

The dining hall will also be ADA accessible come the fall semester. In the past, the entrances utilized stairs and were on the sides of the building, but the new floor plan will have a flattened, more accessible main entrance at the front of the building.

“It just gives us a better store front, a safer area. This place is well lit and very visible,” he said. “We’re also adding ADA accessible bathrooms to this project, so just to kind of update it in a couple of different ways besides the food and just give it a really fresh look. It’s going to be a really cool experience.”

Additionally, a renovation will involve the atrium, which will now be part of one big dining room and will be the same temperature throughout — in the past, due to the glass on all four sides of the area, the temperature fluctuated based on the weather, Backes said. The changes will create a safe, environmentally conscious space, which are key aspects to the renovation, Wilson-Scott said.

“I think it’s going to be a great example for UNM and the state,” he said. “I think it’s a nice building. I can’t speak for UNM, but I would imagine that environmental and utility savings are a key concern for UNM, period.”

Nichole Harwood is a reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.