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  • Writer's pictureLuvya J. Khushlani

The Good, Bad and Ugly of T6

Updated: Mar 14




The T6 ‘Vidya Devi Jindal Dining Block’ (‘T6’) stands seven floors tall, sprawling about 300,000 square feet. Together with the gleaming Faculty Office Building (‘FOB’), it stands as the pride of JGU and is a testament to what private universities in India can achieve. State-of-the-art facilities bridge the gap between food preparation and service- with significantly expanding culinary options, to cater to the ever-hungry, high-spending capacity JGU student body.


The point of this article is to neither question the need for new dining areas nor to say that T6 inherently fails its purpose. Architecturally the T6 is impressive, the new kitchen is irrefutably better and more than twice the size of the old kitchen (as per the Sodexo Director on-site, the new kitchen is designed to cater to up to 15,000 students). The new dining halls no longer seem makeshift and cramped, instead are spacious and have better ventilation. The purpose here is instead to raise questions about the general productivity of a block specialized in dining rather than leveraging its full potential and becoming a multi-purpose student activities area. It will also draw attention to other critical issues, exploring the good, bad, and ugly of the block.


The Good

There is no denying that T6 has brought benefits to the JGU campus. Continuing from the introduction, we have seen:

  • Higher seating capacity: The old dining halls, even combined, did not have enough capacity to cater to the entire student body. Those intimately aware of its workings know that old mess infrastructure was barely hanging on by a thread. Ventilation was poor, pungent smells were common, tables and chairs were unstable and falling apart and overcrowding was frequent. The lighting in the old dining halls was bright white and unwelcoming. This time though the interior designer seemed to have realized the importance of warm lighting, which is seen throughout the new dining halls.

  • Better kitchen: The old kitchen was at its limit and lacked advanced high-capacity equipment (partially leading to infamous hygiene incidents, not to mention the whole ‘paao bhaji’ fiasco). Lack of space and equipment meant longer preparation times (i.e. the food was less fresh) and limited culinary options. The location and arrangement also meant it was difficult and time-consuming to transport food items from the kitchen to the dining halls spread across the academic block and in some student housing blocks. In contrast, the T6 kitchen is modern with all the equipment that JGU's variety and high numbers call for. It has allowed Sodexo to broaden culinary choices while also significantly cutting down preparation times and fresher food. Transportation is no longer time-consuming thanks to the five higher-capacity dumbwaiters.

Overall, higher capacity and quality dining halls, paired with advanced preparation techniques have led to a more pleasant dining experience.


The Bad

As much as the T6 improved the dining experience, it is marred with certain design issues. Rules regarding the usage of T6 by the JGU administration further prevent it from being used in better ways. There are also underlying issues with the philosophy of T6 itself, as dining spaces are ideally supposed to be integrated spaces. What we now have is an area you have to travel to and from.

  • Limited usage: The T6, given its area of over 300,000 square feet could easily have been (one of) the university’s hubs for student recreation and activities. Instead, its singular focus on dining (thus excluding all other floor usage options) along with the fact that students are not allowed to be in the block post about 11:45 PM prevents it from being used efficiently. Earlier, the mess areas used to be open for extended periods, thus doubling up as student recreational spaces. It does not make sense to have such early curfew hours for the T6 as it is neither an academic space nor does it have any reading rooms (barring that tiny space buried deep below).

  • Poor lift placement: Given the size of the T6, it has multiple points of entry (four points

    • North, the academic block side; South; West and East). Despite this, the four lifts are operational only on the North side. This poses key issues due to multiple reasons:

      • Four lifts are not capable of handling the footfall this block has. For comparison, the FOB, which has 10 floors and hosts 1100 people, has six lifts.

      • In the old mess areas, considering they were in the academic block, meant that people entered the area from multiple points. No one entry point was too crowded. In T6, the North side is closest to the academic block (and the only entry point that has lifts) means that it is the only entry and exit point, making it very crowded often.

    • The concentration of lifts on one side also makes for increased distances, particularly for those not entering from the academic block. Instead, we could have had:  (i) more lifts on the North side, considering its proximity to the academic block and (ii) lifts placement on the South as well, this would provide flexibility of entry and exit, especially for those entering from the hostels’ side as well as departing towards that side after their meals.

  • Inefficient floor planning (in dining halls): JGU dining halls have five main aspects (i) Dish pickup (ii) Dish landing (iii) handwash (iv) food counters and (v) general seating area. The way the first four aspects have been determined in the T6 dining halls presents an inefficiency problem. Let us look at it systematically:

  1. Dish pickup and handwash: There are two pickup counters on the North side of each dining hall. Given that we now have the facility of two counters, a big dining hall and centrally located food counters – the ideal location for pickup counters and handwash areas would have been one on the North and the other on the South, again providing more flexibility and wider usage of the floor area.

  2. Dish landing: Like pickup counters, there are two of them, both on the South side. Again, given the size of the dining halls, one dish landing is on the East side and the other is on the West side.

  3. Food counters: The current centrally- located square structure aids easy transport of food items from the underground kitchen to the upper dining halls.


However, it operates as a single structure, leading to crowding and people bumping into each other. To solve this, the square should instead operate as two ‘L’ structures with the full menu placed on each ‘L’, similar to the arrangement in the T3 outer mezzanine mess or some of the upper mess areas. The current structure would easily have been able to accommodate such an arrangement.


The Ugly

  • RASA: The ugliest part of the T6 must be a nuclear bunker-like structure very fancily named Recreational Arena Student Activities ‘RASA’. There are so many questions to be raised: such as the location (two floors below the ground floor), the lack of washrooms and mobile signal, and patchy Wi-Fi- which could be a challenge in case of an emergency. It is also where the Office of Student Affairs and an oversized lift lobby are- making it a (student) affair to (not) remember. Why does an area, presented as the new activity hub, have such poor capacity?

  • Waste of Electricity: If you have noticed, the T6 block is lit up brighter than an Indian household on Diwali, even when not a single soul walks its area. No one knows why this happens, but it certainly is a waste of electricity - a good use of our money and in contrast to our sustainability goals.

  • Stairs: The gap between the stairs is not only an aesthetically poor choice but also hazardous for all, especially given the stairs do not have much friction. There is also a risk of upskirting.

  • Second-order effects: The construction of T6 meant the old mess areas being cleared out. Students expected the introduction of desperately needed new common areas and silent reading rooms. While the Student Arena for Multifunctional Activities (‘SAMA’) (T4 Mezzanine Floor) was built, it is comparatively small (might as well call it the Small Arena for Multifunctional Activities), Despite SAMA meaning ‘balanced and well-maintained’ in Sanskrit, the room is neither, rather being an awkward crossover of a silent reading room and a student common area, making it bad at both. Putting that aside, the Adda (T1 Ground Floor) and old Main Mess (T3 Ground Floor) have been converted into offices and the T3 Mezzanine mess areas are being turned into classrooms.


Conclusion

The construction of T6 presented a unique opportunity for JGU to kill many birds with one stone – like solving dining issues and making up for the lack of a common area. Alas, it is now too late for that. Overall, T6 feels like an incomplete structure rather than the potentially encompassing one it should have been.



About the Author

Luvya Khushalani is the General Secretary of Policy Corner and a second-year economics student (UG) at JSGP. He is also Head of the Food and Mess Committee (JSGP).

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