Grebel will Break Ground to Make Space for Community

Friday, April 5, 2019

New Grebel Kitchen
In the fall of 2020, Conrad Grebel University College students will start the school year equipped to be more welcoming and inclusive than ever before!  On April 1, the Board of Governors approved the budget and final plans for a brand-new kitchen and an expansion of the dining room. To celebrate the start of this essential project, a Ground Breaking ceremony will be held on Tuesday, April 23 at 4:30pm on the site of the new kitchen.

Apart from small upgrades, the Grebel kitchen is the same size it was when the College opened in 1964. “Our Food Services staff are excited about new space that will help us to better serve a growing and diverse student body,” said Cheri Otterbein, who manages Food Services. In addition to regular student meals, the College has experienced increased catering needs as programs grow and initiatives like the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, Conflict Management Certificate Program, and Anabaptist Learning Workshop become established.

Over the past 55 years, the dining room has undergone some moderate renovations, but as the Grebel community has grown, the people have exceeded its capacity.  Grebel offers a home to more than 250 students in the residence program, 70 graduate students, and welcomes thousands of University of Waterloo students into classrooms each year. “Putting Off-Campus Associate students on a waiting list for weekly Community Suppers doesn’t send an inviting message,” said Mary Brubaker-Zehr, director of student services.  The expanded dining room will seat up to 300 people, a vast improvement from the current capacity of 220 for term-end banquets. “We look forward to the future, when we are all able to share a meal together, without leaving anyone out.”

“The Board is excited about the impact that the extra space and improved kitchen will have on students at Grebel” said board chair Jim Tiessen.  “A key feature of the project is the inclusion of a stairway to connect the dining room directly to an expanded Chapel foyer. This better connects the Chapel to the other public areas and will serve the college well for the next 50 years.”

Kate Steiner, who leads the Music and Worship program, suggested that “this physical connection reflects a programmatic commitment to have the Chapel space and the spiritual life it represents better integrated into the academic life of the College.”

Construction expenses will be over $7 million.  The Board has authorized using $1 million of capital reserves for this project because many expenses, such as new windows, are maintenance-related.  A Fundraising Advisory is leading the “Fill the Table” campaign to raise $4 million in donations. The remaining amount will be financed.

“We are optimistic about the generous response of supporters who understand hospitality and that eating a meal together is core to the Grebel experience,” said Ruth Ann Shantz, chair of the Fundraising Advisory.  Almost $3.5 million has been pledged or donated already.

“This has been a challenging project from a design and constructability perspective,” observed Director of Operations Paul Penner, who chairs the Building Committee.  “We are tying together two sides of a 56-year-old building, so we will probably find surprises. We also need to keep our students fed during construction, so coordinating schedules with the Nith Valley Construction team will be critical.” 

Brian Rudy, a Grebel alumnus, is the lead architect from Moriyama and Teshima Architects.  “This kitchen design is bright and efficient and expands the capacity. A dedicated specialized diet area and an after-hours pantry space are provided. The dining room will include more space for students to gather and a gracious stairway and elevator will create a new interconnection between the dining room and Chapel spaces.”

“Students are thrilled that their request for a pantry will be realized,” added Hannah Hill, a student who serves on the Fundraising Advisory. “This will be a space for Associates to store and prepare their meals and for Residents to make late night snacks.”

“Everyone is invited to celebrate with us as we use the ceremonial shovel that was originally used by the College’s founders to turn the sod on this new project,” said Marcus Shantz. Join the Grebel community on Tuesday, April 23 at 4:30 pm to witness the ground breaking and mark the beginning of this exciting building project.

Ground Breaking Invitation