The University of Maryland issued a request for proposal on Aug. 24 to construct a new dining hall and dorm, most likely to be built on the Varsity Practice Fields across from the Ellicott Community.

The Department of Design and Construction's request for proposal places the project on the eMaryland Marketplace where contractors, architects and engineers can bid on involvement in the process, said Jon Dooley, director of Residential Facilities. This is the latest step for the project, which is part of the ongoing On-Campus Student Housing Strategic Plan.

The dorm will house 900 additional beds and will coincide with the demolition of older dorms and residence buildings, said Mary Hummel, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. Worcester, Caroline, Carroll, Wicomico Halls, and Old and New Leonardtown are all scheduled to be demolished by 2030, according to the Strategic Plan.

The new dining hall may include an increased focus on made-to-order food, nutritionally balanced menu options and seating spaces that would make it easier to eat alone quietly, said Colleen Wright-Riva, the Dining Services director.

The goal is to begin construction in 2018, with the dorms and dining hall expected to open by the 2020 fall semester, according to the request for proposal.

The Board of Regents granted an initial approval June 8 to fund the projects, which are expected to cost as much as $120 million, according to the request for proposal.

"We need to have the new [dorm] building up before we do anything to the existing ones," Hummel said. "We really can't do the kind of work we need to be doing while the dorms are occupied [during the school year]."

This university is short 3,542 beds in undergraduate and fraternity and sorority housing, due to "systematic renovations and demolition of existing residence halls," according to a 2017 student housing marketing analysis. 

Wright-Riva said North Campus Dining Hall is not designed to meet the needs of the anytime dining system and it will be shut down with the addition of a new dining hall.

Plans to repurpose the current North Campus Dining Hall are in the works, said Hummel, but it will likely be used as a "back-of-the-house" office space for Dining Services staff members, who are "currently located in various spaces all over campus."

Instead of putting millions into repairing the current dining hall's outdated infrastructure, less than $40 million will go toward building a new "state-of-the-art" facility, which will be designed to support student needs for the next several decades, Wright-Riva said.

"We would do this by looking at the latest trends, getting a lot of student feedback, seeing what recently renovated schools have been doing and what they have learned, and anticipating what [students] want," Wright-Riva said.