New DUC eating options offer more choices, less seating
As students pour into the newly constructed Danforth University Center and explore its various options for dining, they may discover that the seating area seats only about two-thirds of the people that Mallinckrodt Center could accommodate.
Although the new building offers seven new dining options, a “fun room,” ample gathering space for students and new spaces for media and other University organizations, frustrated students find themselves with less than adequate eating space.
Sophomore Allison Block expressed frustrations over on the space in the Danforth University Center (DUC).
“I just wish they could find a way to fit us all into the building. The space is going to get so crowded once the year gets going, and I can already tell it’s going to be difficult to move in and out quickly. This isn’t the mall food court,” Block said.
Bill Darby, director of the DUC, responded to the problem by justifying the demands that University students had made prior to the construction of the DUC. At the same time, Darby acknowledged difficulties with the building that would be resolved in time.
“Students really preferred several different dining areas, so that’s what this building provides,” Darby said. “Part of the opening celebration for the building is going to be a produce mart, that will have a number of seats out there, so is it going to be tricky at the beginning.”
Seating difficulties in the beginning of the semester, however, may represent a relatively easy stage before even more students attend the DUC to eat.
“I think we are going to face the issue of induced demand,” Darby added. “There are going to be a whole bunch of people at the beginning [of the semester] who are going to want to try the University Center, [and] who might have gone elsewhere for lunch. We’re going to have our growing pains when we’re getting going.”
When designing the Center, architects faced challenges in dealing with the amount of space allotted for the seats. Though the building may leave some students wanting more space, Darby said that the seating situation could be worse.
“You can never design for the most crowded condition we can ever get,” Darby said. “I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish the building weren’t bigger. It’s going to take smarts and creativity—I think we have that with the Wash. U. dining services and their ability to provide the highest quality food and serve students’ needs.”
He added that some of the concerns over the lack of space may be overstated.
“I’ve been down there pretty much every day, but the crowds are moving through,” he said. “I won’t tell you there are a lot of empty seats, but I won’t tell you people are having fist fights to get a table.”