Dapper Dons: A sneak peek into USF’s campus renovations

Miguel Arcayena

Staff Writer

The Foghorn was granted a tour of USF’s newly constructed buildings including the Lone Mountain East dormitory, the remodeled Lone Mountain dining center, a preview of modified fall classrooms, and updates on other campus projects. 

Director of USF Project Management JJ Thorp and Student Housing and Residential Education (SHaRE) Director Torry Brouillard-Bruce headed the tour and gave insights on the new spaces and how USF might utilize them. 

Divided into two separate buildings, Lone Mountain East is the attention-grabbing new addition to campus. Aside from providing more bed capacity, the wider-spaced new residence hall offers more social areas, such as courtyards and lounges, for recreational use. 

There are two courtyards accompanying each building that feature string lights, water fountains, sitting areas with heated lamps, and a firepit. Inside, lounges contain flat-screen televisions, soft-sitting couches, and pool tables. Lounges are located on each floor by staircases to act as “connector points,” where students from various floors can fraternize, Brouillard-Bruce said. “We’ve created a lot of spaces throughout the building where students can get out of their rooms and gather socially with their community.” 

The new dorm also offers more amenities with smaller-scale study, music, and fitness rooms. In addition, Lone Mountain East will also be useful to students who don’t reside there as it houses two classrooms, two parking garages, and a bike space. 

The sophomores who will live in Lone Mountain East will be in apartment-style suites similar to Loyola Village. Each unit will be same-gender and contain two private bathrooms. Additionally in each unit, residents will get to enjoy a kitchen, small dining table, and a small living area.

As part of USF’s 2012 institutional master plan, the new residence hall was an “essential project” according to Thorp. “The University had been interested for many years in more campus housing,” he said.

Initially, Lone Mountain East was supposed to open in fall 2020 according to Thorp. However, delays during construction impeded its finish date. “There was infrastructure underground, water and fire lines that needed to be rerouted that we didn’t expect. The excavation of the soil also needed special requirements,” Thorp said. He added that because the project’s development plan began a decade ago, the process had to be redesigned to meet contemporary student needs. Thorp also noted that the pandemic did not hinder construction outside of health and safety adjustments. 

Another project that’ll open this August is Lone Mountain’s renovated and expanded dining center, formerly known as the Wolf and Kettle Cafe. The new cafeteria will serve the bigger resident capacity on Lone Mountain. “We wanted a more convenient place for students to eat rather than going through the neighborhood back and forth. We wanted to offer more food choices and now a pantry alongside, with additional seating for students,” Thorp said. 

But the new Lone Mountain dining facility’s most impressive aspect may be the modern pavilion, which replaced what used to be a patio deck. This site offers a renovated kitchen and dining areas which will serve alcoholic beverages, among other items. The new dining area also features a through-wall fireplace and a heated outdoor seating area. A modernist architectural design with giant glass windows provides a scenic view of the city, from the famous Golden Gate Bridge arches, to the towering skyline of downtown San Francisco. 

Thorp admitted the pavilion was the biggest challenge to the dining hall renovations because of its compact space and its location on a downslope hill. “It was hard building that, like a ship in a bottle. We had to be very creative with the builder on how to do it,” he said. Field Paoli Architects, a local San Francisco urban designing firm which has designed most Whole Food Markets in Northern California, headed the Lone Mountain dining commons project.

Additionally, the tour also provided a sneak peak into what foot traffic might look like within buildings on campus when students return in the fall. In most cases, halls are divided by yellow tape indicating the directions students can walk, as well as socially distanced six-feet stickers for students to stand on while waiting for a classroom. All rooms also have signs outside of their doors indicating their seating capacity. 

One of the ready-made classrooms showcased was a “hyperflex” and “hybrid” course room, where class sessions are taught both remotely and in-person. The room is set up with socially-distanced seats, but what separates these from other classrooms are their newly-installed microphone and speaker, so remote students and their instructor can communicate. On lower campus, the McLaren Conference Center has been transformed into two big lecture rooms. These makeshift classrooms are meant to be alternatives to other large lecture halls, like the ones located at Harney Science Center.

Coincidentally, Harney is currently one of two sites still undergoing construction. The University is building its “Innovation Hive,” a new mixed-use space at the science center’s main level, which will feature a creative area with work tables and whiteboards for classes, prototyping space for light-fabrication and 3-D printing, and woodworking workshops. The Innovation Hive is projected to be open by August 2021. 

The other construction site on the lower campus is at War Memorial Gymnasium. Following a historic $15 million donation, War Memorial will be transformed into a multi-use athletics complex, known as the Sobrato Center. Originally targeted to open in late 2019, construction and permit delays means the project will now be ready by the fall semester. 

The Sobrato Center will feature the USF Sport and Social Change Museum, a space to celebrate former USF athletes who contributed to social justice causes, as well as to honor other notable alumni. Additionally, the Sobrato Center will also feature a premium seating and viewing experience for fans, a multipurpose social area for community use, and a new entrance to War Memorial. 

Outside of finishing current projects, the next big construction on the horizon is Malloy Pavillion, another multi-purpose extension of War Memorial Gymnasium that’ll be located in the area between the Hayes-Healy and Gillson residence halls. Thorp said that all these projects are intended for community purposes: “If you look at all the construction, they aren’t just for athletics or studing housing, it’s for a variety of functions.”  

With most of this construction projected to be complete by the heavily-anticipated reopening of campus this fall, a facelift for the Hilltop will be a welcome sight for the USF community after more than a year away from campus. 

Unofficially called Building 1 of Lone Mountain East, this 5 story building is the larger of the two. Lone Mountain East is connected by an archway so students can easily travel back and forth between buildings 1 and 2. 

(Left) The capacious bike garage which will be open for all USF community members to use. The garage is on the first floor of Building 1 and is accessible through the Lone Mountain driveway on Turk Blvd. (Right) This is what the first floor of both LoMo East buildings will look like, including a new granite 24-hour front desk for CAs, mailboxes, a recreational area, and a modern kitchen. 

Pictured is what the suites in Lone Mountain East will look like. Students should expect a kitchen, small dining table, small living room space, and new furnishings. Continuing students who visit will likely be surprised with how wide and spacious everything is compared to older residence halls on lower campus. 

Designed for socialization while keeping noise within the building, courtyards are significant parts of Lone Mountain East. Each courtyard is designed differently. (Right) This courtyard exudes a more leisurely feel, with street lights and a firepit. (Left) Other courtyards try to capture a more serene mood with heated seating areas surrounded by plants and trees. 

(Left) The smaller, 4-floor building of Lone Mountain East will be home to two classrooms (right). The classrooms are currently under further construction and have been delegated for general course use, similar to other Lone Mountain classrooms. 

Included in the renovations is the extension of the former Wolf and Kettle Cafe dining hall on Lone Mountain. This is where the old patio was, now replaced by a modern and sleek dining space that will serve an expanded menu from Bon Appetit with some picturesque views of San Francisco to top it off.  

The general layout of the new Lone Mountain dining center. The hall offers two kitchens and an expanded pantry. The University refurbished the old Lone Mountain convenience store into a pantry, so it’ll be more convenient for Lone Mountain East and Loyola Village residents to utilize their apartment-style kitchens. 

A current look at what will be the expanded, multi-use Sobrato Center. During the off-season, it will be used for special University events, gatherings, and as social space for the USF community.

Miguel Arcayena is a junior politics major, Deputy News Editor, and a General Assignment Reporter at the Foghorn. He covers COVID-19-related campus news. He can be reached at marcayena@sffoghorn.com.

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