Campus Construction Update, March 30, 2020
On this all-new Campus Construction Update, Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Matt Dull chats with University Communications' Dave Blanks concerning progress on Appalachian's new residence halls, as well as the on-site safety measures workers are taking to stay healthy amid the COVID-19 situation.
Dave Blanks: Hey folks, this is Dave Blanks from University Communications back with a Campus Construction Update, joined once again, remotely, by Mr. Matt Dull. Hello, Matt Dull.
Matt Dull: Hey, Dave. How are you?
Dave Blanks: I'm good. I'm down here in the home office in the basement, so I don't know if our audio will sound a little bit different. It likely will, since we're having to record through the internet. What's your recording situation like currently?
Matt Dull: I am staged upstairs in our house in my little home office and hoping that our two large hound dogs don't come barging in, in the middle of the recording right now.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, I got two kids upstairs that probably are as raucous as the hound dogs, so hopefully they won't come barging in either. But, campus construction goes on?
Matt Dull: It does. It marches on.
Dave Blanks: It continues. Yeah, it continues. So, that means we have updates.
Matt Dull: We do, we've got some updates today, so.
Dave Blanks: Well, let's get into it. What do you want to start with?
Matt Dull: Sounds good. Well let's start with phase one updates. So, Thunder Hill Hall, let's do that, Building 100.
Dave Blanks: Sounds awesome.
Matt Dull: Center section of the building, as we talked about before, that's the part that's just a little bit behind in schedule. That's the wrong word. It's not really behind in schedule, but really it's intentionally a little bit after the —
Dave Blanks: Staggered.
Matt Dull: Stagger, there we go. That's the word, we're looking for.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, it's staggered.
Matt Dull: It's a little behind the upper and lower sections of the building. A little more staggered in the schedule. OK. Well, there's the dog right there.
Dave Blanks: Well, we'll just press on. The dog can listen too.
Matt Dull: That's right. So, we are in the process of waterproofing and the restrooms and the bathroom areas in the building, or in the apartments and units. Shower installations beginning. Elevator installation is ongoing, and we're starting to get covered up inspections throughout this section of the building so we can begin doing drywall installation. So, yeah, things are progressing nicely in this section. Roof has finished up, so we're in that phase of being a dried in building of all of Building 100 so, or Thunder Hill Hall.
Dave Blanks: Awesome. Yeah, Thunder Hill; I still like calling it that more than Building 100.
Matt Dull: That's right. It still is hard to get used to saying Thunder Hill Hall.
Dave Blanks: You did it pretty flawlessly there. I was pretty impressed.
Matt Dull: That's good. It's probably the first time I haven't tripped up on it.
Dave Blanks: All right, well we still have other building names to go, so let's see how you fare.
Matt Dull: That's right. Also, on Building 100 or Thunder Hill Hall, we've got the upper and lower sections of the building. Things are progressing nicely there. We've got countertops being installed in the upper floors, we've got ceramic tile installation that started last week, so getting the ceramic tile in a lot of the wet areas of the building like restrooms, kitchens, that kind of thing.
Matt Dull: Doors and door hardware are also being installed, starting in the top floors and working our way down, so trying to get doors and door hardware in. Drywall is finishing up on the first floor, on the last floor at this time of that building. So, drywall is going in, cabinets are going in on all levels. We got cabinetry in the areas like restrooms, kitchens, so that's going in as well. And work continues on that exterior masonry facade throughout the building as well. So continue to try to get the building wrapped with brick and precast stone right now.
Dave Blanks: What's the kitchen situation for those residence halls?
Matt Dull: Kitchens on every floor in the building, kind of community kitchens. And that's really more for the suite-style units. Of course our apartment units have kitchens in the apartments, so each apartment unit has a kitchen with fridge, oven/stove combination, a sink, countertops, pantry storage area in those areas. So, the apartments are really like you would see in any other on-campus or off-campus apartment. And then those suite areas, with just that shared bathroom, they don't have built-in kitchens in it. There's a community kitchen on the floors for those.
Matt Dull: And those are pretty similar, a little bit larger than the apartment kitchens. Going to have some really nice community space in there as well, so folks can have dinner together in those spaces. So it's more than just a little kitchenette on those areas. So.
Dave Blanks: It sounds like a sweet setup, no pun intended.
Matt Dull: Yeah, they're a nice setup. And part of that is we've got more and more students that are staying during breaks, more and more students that are staying over the Winter Break time, and we wanted to make sure they've got access to areas that they can prepare foods during the break periods as well. So that's why we've done more kitchens in these buildings, and they're also just bigger buildings. So they've got a larger number of students in them. So, we really need to have more kitchen spaces in the facilities.
Dave Blanks: Right.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Excellent. Where else we headed today, Matt?
Matt Dull: Oh, let's move over to Raven Rocks Hall, Building 200. Drywall is wrapping up on the first floor of that building. So all of the other levels are substantially complete with their drywall work, and interior door installations also ongoing. Countertops going in on the top floors of that building. So, pretty similar to the upper and lower sections of Thunder Hill Hall. So, trying to finish up some of that drywall and interior door installation, countertops, those kind of things.
Matt Dull: Transformer for the building is being set, so we can start getting permanent power to the building. The generators on both Thunder Hill Hall and Raven Rocks Hall have been installed and will be connecting to the building here shortly. We're finishing up the exterior stone at the high roof area of Raven Rocks Hall now, so hopefully getting ready to wrap up all of that outside exterior stone and brick work here shortly.
Dave Blanks: Sounds good. So, with generators, I hadn't really thought of that before. Usually, like in residential construction, you'll get temporary power run to the location. So, is there temporary power run to any of the new buildings?
Matt Dull: Yeah, so right now everything's temporary power. We'll be turning on permanent power a little bit later in the construction progress, but we've got to get the generators installed. We've got to get transformers installed before we can actually turn permanent power on to the building.
Dave Blanks: OK. All right, that makes sense. Any other updates on Raven Rocks?
Matt Dull: I think that wraps it up for Raven Rocks Hall and Thunder Hill Hall, moving onto phase two.
Dave Blanks: All right.
Matt Dull: Construction began, like we talked about in our last podcast on February the 14th. Asphalt has been removed from the old parking lot there. Temporary stormwater retention is installed. A lot of the mass grading is finishing up, so really we're now moving on to installing the aggregate piers on the east wing of the building.
Dave Blanks: My favorite.
Matt Dull: Yours and mine, aggregate piers.
Dave Blanks: It's pretty much a fan favorite.
Matt Dull: I figured. Lots of comments out there on Facebook, I'm sure, about aggregate piers.
Dave Blanks: Constantly. We actually had to add another employee into the department just to handle all aggregate pier comments.
Matt Dull: There is now a frequently asked questions section of the website just for ag piers.
Dave Blanks: We're developing an aggregate pier mascot, so he'll be rolling out pretty soon.
Matt Dull: Aggie the ag pier, right?
Dave Blanks: Aggie, yes.
Matt Dull: Enough of that, right?
Dave Blanks: That's enough silliness, yeah.
Matt Dull: So, ag piers are going in on the east wing of the building, will continue around the building foundation. Rock excavation is also a part of that process. Imagine that— rock in Boone, North Carolina.
Dave Blanks: Would ya believe it?
Matt Dull: Would you believe it? So that's also going on right now, and then hopefully having our first bit of concrete to the site this week and next week to start pouring some of the footings. Hopefully we can keep moving that forward with weather and everything else now, but hopefully we're moving now into a much warmer days and, of course, warmer days mean rain in Boone, but hopefully we can keep progress moving forward on the foundation work with Building 300, which will be Laurel Creek Hall.
Dave Blanks: Excellent. What else do we got, Matt?
Matt Dull: So, just real quick updates. Phase three is still underway. That's New River Hall, or Building 400; that's going on the side of Justice Hall. We are continuing to work on our initial set of drawings for that building, and hopefully we will be submitting our first set of drawings to the town of Boone in the next few weeks for their initial review. So, still on schedule with moving forward with New River Hall.
Dave Blanks: Excellent.
Matt Dull: I think those are the majority of the updates. I think folks are continuing to work pretty hard on the site, even with some of the COVID-19 issues going on.
Dave Blanks: I feel like we should address the COVID-19 situation. So how has that affected construction of the new residence halls?
Matt Dull: So, Choate who is the contractor, they're implementing enhanced cleaning measures across the job site, they're continuing to monitor employee and subcontractor health on site every day. They've done things like adding additional field sinks for additional increased hand-washing on site. They're doing more trainings on hand-washing and appropriate social distancing and other hygiene with all of the contractors and subcontractors on site. A lot of our meetings are being held outdoors now and not necessarily in a construction trailer.
Matt Dull: All of the preconstruction meetings, which is usually where you have an all-hands-on-deck meeting, a lot of people in person, those have been moved to online meetings now. So, they're doing some similar things like we might see in our offices. Trying to limit the number of people that are in certain areas of the building. Trying to limit in-person meetings as much as possible. Increasing hand-washing and hand hygiene, talking about social distancing more. So, they're doing very similar, proactive measures like we might be doing in our own offices in our own lives right now.
Dave Blanks: All right. Yeah, I had been curious about that.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: So what about, Matt, I'd considered how has it affected availability of the materials they need, that kind of stuff. Has it affected it in that way?
Matt Dull: Not significantly at this point. We've got quite a bit of the material that, it has a longer lead time or that we might be concerned about, like some of the materials that are coming from China and other places that have been affected. A lot of that material is actually already in the U.S., It's in the warehouse ready to bring onto the site. So, we're in pretty decent shape right now with a lot of the longer lead material or harder to get materials or harder to source materials in the U.S. So, a lot of that's already either on site or in a warehouse ready to bring on site when it's time to install.
Dave Blanks: Excellent. Well, Matt Dull, it's good to hear from you. I'm glad to hear from you in this time of upheaval and home offices.
Matt Dull: That's right.
Dave Blanks: So, you say you have more video conferencing today?
Matt Dull: More video conferencing today, more phone calls, life marches on and we're trying to help figure out the next steps for keeping campus operational as much as possible during this time, but then also balancing that with trying to keep people at home and safe.
Dave Blanks: Right. Well tell the hound dogs I said hello. What are your dogs' names?
Matt Dull: We got two hound dogs. We got Wyatt ,who is a Polish hound, and Doc, who is a bluetick coonhound, so.
Dave Blanks: All right. And with that, my child has entered the room, so I think it's time for me to check out, too.
Matt Dull: It's time.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, Matt, we'll do it again.
Matt Dull: Absolutely, Dave, thanks for the time today.
Dave Blanks: All right. Have a good one.
Matt Dull: All right, take care.