Those of you who remember eating at the All Campus Dining Center (formerly ACDC and the Deece, now renamed Gordon Commons) probably wouldn’t recognize it. It has been transformed by a major renovation into a bright and open community space for students, faculty, administrators, and staff to gather and enjoy fresh, diverse cuisine.
“You’ll see the minute you walk in that ACDC has been transformed—from the awesome new seating arrangements to the wide range of food offerings from our new dining partner, Bon Appétit,” says Chris Roellke, Dean of the College. He anticipates the space will become one of students’ favorite spots on campus.
The new ACDC offers several dining options, including the Kosher Kitchen; the Global Kitchen, featuring foods from many cultures; Oasis, serving meals for those with food allergies and sensitivities; Your Kitchen, where students can load a pan with a variety of proteins, vegetables, and sauces to sauté their own meal; the Farmers Table salad bar; a grill; a deli; as well as hot food and brick oven pizza stations. There’s also an expanded array of vegan and vegetarian options, fresh vegetables from the Vassar Farm, and halal meat.
The space has an open floor plan, crisp, white walls, and skylights that all help to keep the dining hall feeling bright and airy. There are a variety of seating options—booths, raised counters with stools, and custom, movable wooden tables that can seat 2 or 22. In total, the first, second, and third floors can seat more than 1,000 people at any given time.
Students get unlimited card swipes at ACDC. Meals for employees are $6 for breakfast, $7 for lunch, and $8 for dinner, an incentive to help create a gathering place for the entire Vassar community.
The expanded hours of operation—7:00am to 1:00am Monday through Friday—help. They make it more convenient for students, faculty, and administrators to get good food morning, noon, and night.
Lou Karaiskos ’20 and T.K. Murphy ’20 said they’re happy with the new system, which allows them to stop in and get a quick bite before an early morning class and still return later in the morning for a more substantial breakfast. It also means you can grab a meal after a workout or eat something healthy (or not—there is a dessert station) while staying up late writing a paper or studying for an exam.
“This new dining space promises to be an important venue for community building and intellectual and social exchange at Vassar,” says Roellke.
Karaiskos and Murphy agree. They like the new atmosphere at the Deece, where students are spending more time talking with friends, reading, working, and enjoying themselves.
Plans to renovate ACDC had been in the works for years, Roellke says. After six years of intensive study, including visits to peer colleges, the goal was “a complete transformation for campus dining.”
Work on the project began last winter with controlled demolition of several areas. The bulk of the work started immediately after Commencement 2017.
It was an ambitious undertaking to get the space ready before classes started this fall, says Michael Quattrociocchi, Project Manager and Manager of Vassar’s Building Trades. It took a lot of planning. To save money—approximately $1 million—Quattrociocchi helped manage the construction instead of hiring a general contractor.
“This project was like a freight train. You had to keep going,” Quattrociocchi says. “Everybody that came in said there’s no way you can pull this off.”
But the crew wasted no time in knocking down load-bearing walls; installing structural steel beams; replacing flooring; constructing new kitchens, a dish room, and serving stations; exposing and refurbishing the original wooden floors in the entryway; and rebuilding the open stairway that leads to second floor seating.
As with all large projects, there were unexpected hiccups, like finding out the existing plumbing (under a concrete floor) had deteriorated and needed to be completely replaced.
“We had guys here at 3:00am working to keep us on schedule,” he says.
Despite the obstacles, the crew managed to bring the ambitious project to completion on time and on budget. The new dining center opened with a rush of students and parents on August 25, Move-In Day for first-year students.