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Beautiful architecture, air-conditioning, and easy access to Spring Fling are all reasons freshmen revere the Quadrangle — but dining has never been a reason to live there. That’s about to change.

Thursday, a project was approved that will transform McClelland Hall into a dining area capable of seating more than 100 students.

The initiative was approved alongside a proposal to revamp 1920 Commons. The combined initiatives will cost $8 million.

Construction on the two projects will start this summer to “improve the quality of the student experience,” Vice President for Business Services Marie Witt said. She added that the Quad expansion should be completed by September, while the 1920 Commons project is slated to be ready next fall.

Witt said the plans for McClelland were based on feedback from students. It was clear that “more substantial options” for food were needed in the Quad.

The cafe will feature sushi, salads, yogurt, fruit, a hummus bar and a waffle station, Business Services spokeswoman Barbara Lea-Kruger wrote in an e-mail. In addition, there will be made-to-order omelettes, crepes and pasta.

The new dining space will be built in the current lobby and lounges in McClelland, while the information desk will be relocated to accommodate the facilities.

Like McClelland Express, the new cafe will accept both meal swipes and dining dollars from students.

Although a fully-fledged dining hall was out of the question because of space constraints and the difficulty of installing an appropriate ventilation system in the Quad, the renovated cafe will be “more like residential [dining] areas,” Witt said.

Martin Redman, executive director of College Houses and Academic Services, said McClelland Express — which offers to-go options and convenience products — “is extremely popular and does a lot of business.” For the nearly 1,500 students that live in the Quad, however, it is “small,” he added.

The new cafe “will be a real step up,” for Quad residents, Witt said. “I think they’ve been under served.”

College freshman Chris Chan, who is on the Fisher-Hassenfeld College House Council, said the new cafe in the Quad would be “very convenient,” and “great,” especially because of the similar mix of food options which makes Houston Hall one of the more preferred on-campus dining spots.

The new cafe will keep the same hours as McClelland Express, which is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, Director of Residential Dining Theresa Varvir said.

The other project, which will focus on expanding the UnCommon Market in 1920 Commons, will give “more dining options for people in high rises and apartments,” Lea-Kruger said.

This summer, the infrastructure in the building will be updated for better ventilation. By September 2012, the UnCommon Market will become a “different experience,” offering prepared foods and more organic local products.

In particular, the UnCommon market will have soups made from scratch, an olive bar, a bread bar, an organic yogurt station, a pizza station and a station making stir-fry and pasta to-order, as well as a broadened grocery selection.

The market will expand into the area that retail now occupies on the ground floor of 1920 Commons.

Starbucks will move to the basement of the building, which will become “a destination place” for group meetings, Witt said. The basement will open up to an outdoor terrace which will have more seating and an outdoor grill to be used for events.

College sophomore Paul Corlies, who cooks often, would be happy “not having to walk an extra two blocks to go to the grocery store.” Additionally, he would prefer to shop at the UnCommon Market because he can use dining dollars there.

Corlies added that Commons “has the reputation of being the worst dining hall on campus,” so he is glad to see Penn’s effort to improve the options there.

Wharton freshman Yueyi Zhou is happy to see Penn Dining improve on-campus options other than dining halls. Zhou, who has only been to the UnCommon Market twice, still does not imagine she will frequent it often after the renovations.

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