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Willard to house new third space

Jessica Allen

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The Evanston Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to keep the Great Room open Tuesday night.

The space was a campus novelty when it opened in October, but it will be joined by a new “third space” for students next Fall Quarter.

The late-night dining locale to round out the Great Room and Lisa’s Cafe triumvirate will be a yet-to-be-named space in Willard Residential College.

University officials approved the plan about two weeks ago, University President Morton O. Schapiro told The Daily on Friday.

“I want it open as early in the fall as possible,” Schapiro said. “They’re working very hard on a construction schedule.”

Northwestern is in the beginning stages of the planning process, said William Banis, vice president for Student Affairs. Details of what the third space will look like and the food it will serve have yet to be determined, he said.

The administration worked with students in the Residential Hall Association to determine the location, Banis said. In late March they showed the students three possible locations in the South Quads, he said.

At the University meeting, the final decision was between Willard and South Mid-Quads Hall, Schapiro said. They discussed different price tags, but that wasn’t the main factor in choosing one over the other, he said.

“I was mainly concerned about the different timing,” Schapiro said of picking a location for the new student space.

Willard already has kitchen capacity, something the architects can capitalize on, Banis said.Willard resident Sam Gutelle said the idea might be less appealing to the dorm’s residents who view the daytime dining hall as their “little secret,” but said he thinks it would be nice to have a close hangout spot other than the “depressing” library.

“I really like the Great Room but it’s really far away,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “I can never convince anyone to go there.”

One of the challenges in creating the night space in Willard will be ensuring it’s different from resident dining, Banis said. A goal is to ensure students don’t feel like they’re going to Willard Resident Dining but a new place, he said.

University officials have discussed making a separate entrance for the third space in order to ensure it has a unique identity, Schapiro said.

Weinberg sophomore Rocio Martinez said she thinks South Campus residents are currently underrepresented as far as late-night hangout locations are concerned. Opening one in Willard is a “fantastic” idea, she said.

“I definitely think people would use (Willard) more, too, especially during the winter,” the Willard resident said.

She said creating different identities for the day and night Willard space wouldn’t matter to residents but would to non-residents.

“A lot of people don’t eat at Willard because they think it’s just Willard kids or Chapin kids,” she said.

Banis said the University’s next step is looking for architects and construction will begin after NU’s commencement.

Schapiro said the University has already worked through construction issues with people living on campus this summer.

“I wanted to do it, we wanted to do it, we’re doing it,” Schapiro said. “We’ll have Lisa’s, we’ll have the Great Room, we’ll have sometime in the fall another space. And I’m not declaring victory on that until we really grapple more successfully with Norris and continue to make investments there.”

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