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Walnut Hill School for the Arts


June - September 2018 

3D model of the 2018 kitchen renovation

Four years ago, the dining hall and serving area were renovated to be more open, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing for our diners. After careful planning, we are now able to renovate the kitchen. The project entails completely gutting the very old kitchen and installing a brand new kitchen with all new finishes and equipment. The layout of the kitchen and serving space will change completely to be much more efficient. We have also worked with the design team to select energy-efficient equipment and a dish wash system that will reduce water consumption significantly. The new equipment even includes a commercial wok and the layout includes a separate area for bakery and catering that can also be used for small group meals on special occasions.

The work has begun, starting with a thorough demolition of the whole space. The heating system for the whole building will be upgraded, and a water softener will also serve the entire building.  This extensive project is expected to take until mid to late September and it is the reason we are not using Eliot Hall to house summer students this year.

Meanwhile, our exact same wonderful Sodexo staff will be preparing great meals for everyone. We have installed a Board of Health-approved temporary cooking kitchen in the adjacent parking area. All meals will be prepared in the mobile kitchen and served, as usual, in the servery. We will continue to use our top-quality suppliers, which will allow us to still serve an abundant selection, albeit from smaller temporary facilities. We will also continue our relationship with the nearby Natick Community Organic Farm who will continue to provide us with select fresh produce. Sodexo General Manager, Peter Walker, says “my staff and I have been planning for the temporary set-up and meals throughout the past academic year.  Our goal is for our clientele to see very little difference in the summer and early-autumn dining experience. We’re also glad to do the construction during nice weather when we can supplement with barbecues.”

During construction, the anticipated and noticeable changes will be a little noise – likely more than a little through the 4th of July, and a re-directed pedestrian route to keep walkers away from the construction staging area at the rear of Eliot Hall. We will use compostable paper plates and recyclable disposable flatware. 


Why does Walnut Hill need a new kitchen?

The last time the kitchen was renovated was in the 1960s. Renovation is long past due and will significantly enhance the dining experience for our students, faculty, and staff.

Why is Walnut Hill renovating during the summer?

Before making the decision to break ground, the Board carefully considered the best timing for the project from a strategic, economic and operational perspective; reviewed the financial position of the school; and determined how the school and camps would operate during construction. Summer was deemed to be the best time to undertake the project as it minimizes delays resulting from weather and is also when we have the lowest number of people on campus.

How will construction impact students and programs?

All programming will continue as usual. Students may need to adjust their usual walking routes as the area behind Eliot Hall will be closed to everyone but construction personnel. We are working with the contractor and project manager to ensure the area outside of the kitchen is secured; safety is our top priority.

How will construction impact meal service?

The construction will have very little impact on meal service and we will continue to serve 3 meals a day during the existing dining hours. There will be very little change to the meals provided; the temporary kitchen trailer contains all the same equipment as currently found in our kitchen. The school will purchase more prepared foods such as chopped vegetables vs. whole vegetables but they will still be fresh, not frozen or canned. All meals will continue to be served in our dining hall which will not be affected by the construction. The major impact will be in the use of disposable plates, cups, and silverware due to the lack of a dish room in which to wash such items.

Who is the contractor and project manager?

Ashling Incorporated is the contractor and Cynthia Westerman is the Project Manager.




Any questions regarding the project can be directed to the School’s Chief Financial Officer, Jane Segale. Her contact information is: