The wait for De La Guerra Dining Commons to reopen has been a long one, and it’s only going to get longer.
DLG, which closed its doors in the summer of 2002 in preparation for a much-needed facelift, was originally scheduled to reopen in December 2003. The project, which was given an estimated cost of $12.47 million, has reportedly stayed on budget, but not on schedule. Edward Marini, project manager and university representative, said the project is only 20 percent complete, and the deadline has been pushed back to early May 2004.
“We’re hoping to have a Cinco de Mayo party at the finished facility,” Marini said.
Pipes and electrical wires hidden in the walls are the largest obstacles towards the renovation’s completion. The extensive planning and review phase of the project also reportedly caused a several-month delay prior to the start of construction.
“When you’re working on an existing building, you run into surprises that you weren’t expecting, and we’ve had our fair share,” Marini said.
Built in 1961, DLG served as the main on-campus dining facility for over 30 years before being rated seismically poor in a survey of UCSB buildings commissioned by the UC Office of the President in the early ’90s. The current project will upgrade the building’s seismic rating to “good,” as well as making it compliant with current fire and health codes.
In addition to modernizing the structure of the building, the renovations will change the manner in which food is served. DLG will adopt the newer, more open dining style of Carrillo Dining Commons as opposed to the older, more military style being used at Ortega Dining Commons.
The new food service system, which has become popular at universities across the nation, features separate stations for different types of food. It also reduces food waste by adjusting the amount of food cooked according to demand. The new process is more labor-intensive, Coordinator of Resource Planning for Housing and Residential Services Chuck Haines said, but the reduced food waste offsets the cost of the increased staff.
Other changes to DLG include a secondary dining area located where the DLG Annex used to be, which will house a grill and extra seating, and may eventually operate as an after-hours dining facility. DLG will also feature an outdoor patio with seating for 100 and a clear view of the ocean.
“We’re very excited about DLG and the positive impact it will have on student life,” Haines said.
Before DLG closed down, the university had three on-campus dining commons serving 2,600 students. This year, Ortega and Carrillo are the only on-campus dining commons, and they serve nearly 3,400 students.
Nick Fuentes, manager of student personnel at Carrillo, said that the facility is feeling the strain from the recent opening of San Rafael Hall, which added more than 300 students to Carrillo’s usual traffic. However, Fuentes maintains that the dining commons is handling the increased load well.
“We’re working towards increased staff,” Fuentes said. “We have about 130 employees currently, and we will work up to about 140.”
Some students are bothered by crowds at Carrillo. Dan Finnegan, a senior law and society major and Carrillo employee, said the increased traffic is noticeable.
“I find it uncomfortable coming to dinner,” Finnegan said. “Last year it was nice.”
Once DLG reopens next spring, the university will have a trial period with all three on-campus dining commons open to all students.
“We’re really hoping to take the pressure off of any one dining commons,” Haines said, “and to remove the restriction of [dining] assignments.”