Custom made counters and stools were installed at the Campus Center Dining Room over winter break.

Over winter break, the Campus Center Dining Room at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo underwent the second phase of a three-phase Refresh Project. The project aims to create a comfy-cozy space for students to do more than just scarf down a meal—with decor that blends rustic with modern, three main sections of the large dining room are being transformed into a bright and cheerful café, an area to lounge and study or gather with friends, and sit-down counters that run the length of the wall of windows overlooking the gardens.

“The overall goal for this refresh project is to provide a vibrant, inviting gathering place for students,” says Brenda Hamane, director of special projects at the UH Hilo Office of Administrative Affairs. “This initiative is part of UH Hilo’s strategic plan, and supported by Chancellor Straney and Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Marcia Sakai to create the first of many gathering places for students.”

The Refresh Project work in the dining room is being done over three phases to avoid disruption to food service operations—Phase I happened last summer, Phase II has just been completed this winter break and Phase III will complete the project this coming spring break.

Last summer, rustic looking flooring was installed. At the start of the spring semester next week, students will find more work was done over winter break that enhances the new organic look—rustic counters now run the length of the wall of windows complete with bar stools and a view of the gardens, renovated planters are now encased in reclaimed wood, and for contrast, splashes of bright green accent are on some walls and trim.

The majority of the work over break was done by a UH Hilo Auxiliary Services crew under the direction of Kolin Kettleson, auxiliary director, and students from the carpentry program at Hawaiʻi Community College under the direction of instructors Gene Harada and Darryl Vierra.

Phase II: Adding to the rustic charm

Work crew puts the finishing touches on the new rustic looking floor of the Campus Center Dining Room, Aug. 4, 2016.

Work during this winter break was fast and efficient—existing planter boxes were refurbished with reclaimed pallet wood. Staff from Auxiliary Services collected discarded pallets throughout UH Hilo campus and the Panaʻewa Farm Laboratory for this project. It was a great opportunity for Hawaiʻi CC carpentry program students to learn how to refurbish existing furniture with reclaimed wood.

Hamane says a “comfy cozy” lounge area is planned for the back area of the dining room, near the bookstore entrance. The colors will be lime green and bright blue for furniture.

“It’s important for students to know that this is their gathering place, so they can configure the new furniture to create their own gathering space,” says Hamane. “The furniture was selected with this in mind.”

The designers of the Refresh Project also ensured that the majority of tables—40 of the 70 tables—are ADA accessible, and each area—lounge, window bar counter and café—will have ADA accessible tables.

“Chancellor Straney and Vice Chancellor Marcia Sakai’s vision is to create this gathering place for all students to come together and feel welcome and invited to reconfigure tables and chairs to create a comfortable college hangout space for all to enjoy,” Hamane explains.

A grand opening celebration for students is planned after the Refresh Project is completed over spring break.

Read the UH Hilo Stories article for full story.

—A UH Hilo Stories article

—By Susan Enright