College of Arts and Letters to expand café in O’Shaughnessy Hall

Author: College of Arts and Letters

O'Shaughnessy Hall view of South QuadThe renovated café space in O'Shaughnessy Hall will feature windows with a view of South Quad.

The College of Arts and Letters is planning renovations in O’Shaughnessy Hall that will open up the café and gallery areas to create a welcoming space with double the current seating of Waddick’s, more natural light, and extensive views onto South Quad.

The project grew out of a major review of departmental and common space in O’Shaughnessy and Decio halls as programs and faculty prepared to move into the new Corbett, O’Neill, and Jenkins-Nanovic halls.

“The café and hallway on the ground floor of O’Shaughnessy have long been a favorite spot for students, faculty, and staff — a place to meet, study, and get coffee and quick meals throughout the day. But it has been decades since the space was refreshed, and it can be crowded, with seating always in high demand,” said Associate Dean Margaret Meserve, who chaired the Arts and Letters Space Evaluation Committee. 

Meanwhile, the review found that the AAHD gallery space across the hall was underutilized, with few visitors during the day, no seating, and dark blinds blocking the windows. 

“This project will bring the two spaces together, more than doubling the amount of space and seating,” said Meserve, associate professor of history and Fabiano College Chair in Italian Studies. “It will be a brighter, lighter, and more welcoming place to gather, with better overhead lighting, more natural light coming in through windows on two sides, and long views onto South Quad. The café will have better coffee — including espresso drinks — and other hot and cold drinks as well as freshly baked pastries and snacks.” 

The renovation will provide more comfortable places to sit and work, encouraging the kinds of informal interactions that were part of the College’s original vision for Waddick’s as “a place for students and faculty to meet.”

New tables and counter seating will be added, along with couches and comfortable chairs, and multiple outlets for charging phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Unlike at present, the entire space will be open whenever the building is open, morning till night.

“While the Great Hall is more formal, we envision this space as a sort of living room for O’Shaughnessy Hall — a bright, warm, colorful spot for students, staff, and faculty alike,” Meserve said.

The work is scheduled to take place over summer 2018, so the new space will be ready when students and faculty return in August. The AAHD Gallery is relocating to Riley Hall, where the College is renovating a dedicated space for it.