New furniture to be installed in Dana dining hall over spring break

Students who frequently eat in Dana may have been shocked to find that the beloved booths were removed from the dining hall this past January and replaced with sets of small tables and chairs. This temporary layout will remain in the dining hall until spring break, when Dana will install brand new furniture throughout the space. The Echo spoke with Marietta Lamarre, General Manager of Dining Services, about what prompted the changes to Dana’s layout and design.

“Dana’s got an old look to it,” Lamarre said. “The furniture looks a little outdated, so the goal was to make it more modern.” 

Lamarre recounted the work that’s been done in Dana over the past several months by Colby Facilities. 

“They did the carpeting in the lower level during the summer. They took out the carpeting in the meeting rooms and the booth area, and closed the wall up on the booth area because there’s going to be a new booth configuration. They also completed all the painting.”

The Echo also spoke with Mina Amundsen, Assistant Vice President for Facilities and Campus Planning, about the recent renovations in Dana. She also shared that Facilities wanted to give Dana a more modern look. 

“The changes to the dining hall furniture were part of an overall refresh of the dining hall, responding to student feedback about the space and experience,” she said

“The furniture installation is the third phase as the pieces take a few months to arrive after they are selected and ordered,” Amundsen continued. The vision was to have a contemporary space that felt inclusive, and was flexible to accommodate a range of seating needs and choices.”

Both Lamarre and Amundsen wanted students to play a major part oin the selection process for new furniture. Several examples of seating, fabrics, and other materials were brought to Dana during a lunch period in the fall semester. During this time, students were able to give their feedback and vote for the furniture they preferred. 

“They brought in samples and I can’t even tell you how many we looked at,” Lamarre exclaimed. 

They also wanted to be sure that renovations made cleaning and other maintenance easier on the dining staff. Amundsen explained that this was accomplished through a collaboration with Facilities, Dining Services, and Campus Life. “Basic criteria were aesthetics, durability, as well as ease of use, ability to stack, and clean surfaces thoroughly. The shortlisted choices, along with options for colors and patterns, were reviewed in the dining hall with students.”

Lamarre added that the new furniture was also chosen with sustainability in mind. “Facilities made sure that all of the new furniture was sustainable,” she said. “The fabric on the booths can be washed. It has a finish on it so that it can be cleaned very easily. Taking the carpet out over the summer was a big move because the new flooring is much easier to take care of.”

Student reaction seems to be fairly mixed. Some are excited for a change of scene, while others are skeptical about the introduction of new furniture.

 In a recent interview, the Echo spoke with Artricia Nou `21 and Laura Sokoloski `21, two Dana-loyalists who have frequented the dining hall since their first year at Colby. 

“I eat at Dana one to three times a day!” Sokoloski remarked. 

When asked how she felt about the changes in Dana during January she replied, “I like that you can fit more people at the tables, but I miss the booths. You could grab a few friends and just sit and talk.”

Nou also described her fondness of Dana’s booths but added that she was looking forward to some of the changes to come after spring break. 

“We used to sit at the booths for hours! If no booths were available, we’d be really disappointed. I think the new set up will be cool because it won’t split the booths up, it’ll be an open space,” Nou said. “When the booths are back, I think I’ll probably spend a lot more time in Dana. It’s comfortable to sit in.”

Sokoloski, however, seemed a bit more worried about the changes to come. During January, Dana staff put out photos of what the new furniture will look like. 

In response to these photos, Sokoloski said, “it looks a little hospital-y. But I’m sure it’ll all turn out well. I feel good as long as it doesn’t decrease the amount of seating. There’s already not enough seating as it is.” According to Amundsen, the seating capacity in Dana will remain the same and may even include a few more seats than before. 

Overall, students will have to wait until the end of March to judge if they enjoy the new Dana furniture. At best, they should hope to see a new dining hall with a contemporary and colorful look.

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