Skip to main content

Dining and Community Commons

Dining and Community Commons

Watch: Dining and Community Commons

Students, staff, and alumni speak about the potential impact of the Dining and Community Commons on the Swarthmore experience.

Inclusive social and community spaces are foundational to the College's residential-based educational experience.

These extraordinary times remind us of the importance of community — of gathering together in shared physical spaces that promote reflection, rejuvenation, and relationship building. That has long been the vision for the Dining and Community Commons. Through this project, the College community has the exciting opportunity to reimagine the social and dining experiences that are central to Swarthmore’s ability to fulfill its mission of educating the whole person.

As a residential liberal arts institution, we are committed to educating the whole person.

President Valerie Smith

What's Inside

First Floor

  • Dining Seating - located in the southeast portion of the first floor and southwest portion of the second floor
  • Dining Coffee / Grab-N-Go - centrally located in the first floor
  • Dining Servery - located in the southeast portion of the first floor and southwest portion of the second floor alongside the dining seating areas
  • Office of Student Engagement - located in the northern portion of the first floor
  • Student Clubs And Orgs - located in the northern portion of the first floor
  • Student Lounge - located in the northern portion of the first and second floors

Second Floor

  • Dining Seating - located in the southeast portion of the first floor and southwest portion of the second floor
  • Dining Servery - located in the southeast portion of the first floor and southwest portion of the second floor alongside the dining seating areas
  • Meeting Rooms - located in the northern portion of both the first and second floors
  • Student Lounge - located in the northern portion of the first and second floors
  • Recreation - located in the northern portion of the second floor

A significant portion of the Dining and Community Commons will be funded through philanthropic contributions, including a $7 million gift made in 2013 by Giles “Gil” Kemp ’72 and Barbara Guss.

Naming opportunities for individual spaces are available, and all gifts of $25,000 and above will be recognized in the building. For more information, contact Michael Gillum, Senior Director of Individual Giving & Donor Relations, at 610-328-8334 or mgillum1@swarthmore.edu.

Dining Highlights

  • Increased seating capacity and flexible seating arrangements
  • Greater variety of food choices and dietary accommodations
  • Fully accessible
  • Stations for individual food prep and cooking
  • Outdoor seating adjacent to dining hall
  • Improved catering and event space
  • Teaching kitchen
  • Private meeting spaces for breakfast, lunch, and dinner engagements
  • Extended hours and late-night dining options

Community Commons Highlights

  • Design that facilitates partnerships and fosters relaxation, socialization, and fun
  • Flexible spaces for meeting and socializing
  • Connections to the natural environment through design and natural light
  • A new home for the Office of Student Engagement
  • Dedicated student meeting, storage, and lounge space
  • Indoor and outdoor programmable spaces

Sustainability Highlights

  • All-electric energy using renewable sources
  • Solar panels on the roof
  • Meadow area and food gardens
  • Improved compost collection
  • Induction cooking
  • Increase in locally sourced food
  • Stormwater management and recapture
  • A geothermal energy transfer plant in the basement that will serve the entire campus and enable the College to transition away from the use of fossil fuels

More than 500 students participated in in-person interviews, and 575 faculty, staff, and students responded to a survey to share their experiences of dining, socializing, and learning on campus. The findings have closely informed the design of the Dining and Community Commons and yielded three guiding principles for the project:

Guiding Principles

A 3D rendering of the new Sharples upper dining area.
  • COMMUNITY BUILDING

    Foster connection, collaboration, and resource-sharing among students, and between students and faculty and staff.

  • A 3D rendering of the new Sharples stairway and fireplace.
  • INCLUSIVITY

    Create a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible resource for all members of our community.

  • SUSTAINABILITY

    Embody Swarthmore’s commitment to sustainable environmental practices.

This project is about much more than a building; it represents an opportunity to reimagine how we live in community with one another.

Jim Terhune, Vice President and Dean of Students

The Dining and Community Commons project will transform students’ experiences at Swarthmore, allowing the College to truly live into its mission. Now is the time to become a partner in this vital project and support Swarthmore in meeting the needs of its vibrant community and evolving into an even stronger residential liberal arts institution.