Campus Construction Update, April 06, 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: Hello again, folks. This is Dave Blanks from University Communications joined, once again, remotely, by Mr. Matt Dull. Hello, Matt Dull.
Matt Dull: Hey, Dave. How are you?
Dave Blanks: I'm doing just fine. We were talking before we started recording and for a second you thought you were going to have to go out to your car and record, but that's not the case?
Matt Dull: Not the case today.
Dave Blanks: All right. Your dogs were going to run you out of your house? Is that what was happening?
Matt Dull: Between the dogs, and my wife and I are doing dueling teleconference video calls, everything else right now.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, well, it's your turn at this time, correct?
Matt Dull: That's right. I can talk right now.
Dave Blanks: All right, cool. What do we want to cover today, Matt Dull?
Matt Dull: I guess we can just do some general updates on the project and maybe talk a little bit about some of the COVID-19 preparedness stuff that Choate's doing on site to help us keep safe while we have workers still on site.
Dave Blanks: OK, cool. Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. We mentioned a little of it in the last one, but where do you want to start? Thunder Hill?
Matt Dull: Let's start with Thunder Hill. Thunder Hill Hall, not a huge number of changes from last week's update but in that center section of Thunder Hill Hall, waterproofing is being done. Restrooms and showers are being installed. Elevator installation is ongoing in that section of the building. We're starting to get the cover-up inspections now so that we can begin installing drywall in that center section of the building. So, it is moving along nicely. Windows are in, Tyvek is on. That center section is now dried in, which really dries in all of Building 100, which really lets us continue down the path of all the different kind of interior finish work that needs to be done in the building.
Dave Blanks: And once again, dried in means?
Matt Dull: It just means that building envelope or that exterior of the building is to a place where you don't have a lot of moisture intrusion, rain, that kind of stuff, where you can really do the work inside of the building that's not going to get messed up now because you don't have excess humidity and moisture, and you're not going to get your drywall soaking wet because you don't have a roof on yet; that kind of thing.
Dave Blanks: Right.
Matt Dull: Kind of buttoned up on the outside, if you will.
Dave Blanks: I gotcha. So, quite literally dry but not necessarily insulated, right?
Matt Dull: Correct. Not necessarily insulted and exactly how it's going to be on the day you open it, but dried in enough that you can start doing all that interior work that is more sensitive to humidity and water.
Dave Blanks: Gotcha. Well, that sounds like good progress on Thunder Hill so far.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: On that section of Thunder Hill.
Matt Dull: On that section, yeah. And then that upper section, the lower section, a lot of the work is being done in countertops, making sure countertops are installed. So, those are in our kitchens and the bathrooms in the units. Ceramic tile installation, all the wet areas of the building. Again, in kitchens and bathrooms. Doors and door hardware installation's going on, drywall is finishing up, cabinetry work is going in on all the different levels in the building. Work is kind of continuing, again, inside the building to get all of the rough finishes in, both in the units as well as in a lot of the different common areas, like the common kitchens on each floor.
Dave Blanks: Does that cover the entirety of Thunder Hill? Aren't there three sections? Or am I mistaken?
Matt Dull: Yeah. There's three sections. Really, that upper and lower section are just right about the same right now. There's maybe a week difference in what's going on in each building, but really that upper and lower section now have really caught up to each other and are right ... Pretty much the same activities are happening in both sides.
Dave Blanks: All right. What's next? Wait, let me guess which one was next. It's not ... We did Thunder Hill. I know it's not Laurel Creek yet. It's Rough Ridge!
Matt Dull: Nope.
Dave Blanks: No. Raven ...
Matt Dull: It's Raven Rocks.
Dave Blanks: Rave Rocks! That was it. Raven Rocks. Raven Rocks.
Matt Dull: Raven Rocks Hall.
Dave Blanks: That was it.
Matt Dull: The old Building 200, Raven Rocks Hall.
Dave Blanks: I knew it was alliterative.
Matt Dull: That's right. Raven Rocks, pretty similar to the progress we're making in that upper and lower section of Thunder Hill. Drywall wrapping up on that bottom level. All the other drywall is finished up in the building. Interior door installation, countertops being installed, ceramic tile, cabinetry. All those kind of activities are occurring in Building 200 right now at the same time as that upper and lower section of Building 100.
Matt Dull: The transformer for the building is being set right now. And then trying to finish up that last little bit of exterior stone and brick work. The last little section is the section that faces the stadium or Jack Branch Road. One little section that's got to be wrapped up here in the next month or so.
Dave Blanks: Gotcha. Where else are we headed today, Matt?
Matt Dull: Let's see. Phase two, or Building 300, or Laurel Creek — whichever one helps you remember what building we're talking about. Laurel Creek Hall, construction continuing on that hall. We talked the past couple of weeks about basically getting the site ready for construction — asphalt being removed, storm water retention systems, mass grating, all those things. A lot of those activities have finished up. We're now installing aggregate piers for the foundation of the building, so those aggregate piers are continuing to be installed this week as well as excavating any kind of rock in the way, of getting a good, firm foundation for those buildings. That's continuing this week on the work for phase two.
Matt Dull: There's also some steam work that's going on right now. We're putting in a new steam line as a part of phase two of the project, so that continues. And then some other utility relocation kind of things, like our AT&T lines, our telephone lines, getting some of those relocated. Really, trying to get some of the utility stuff started or relocated so that we can really start working on the foundations for Building 300, or Laurel Creek.
Dave Blanks: That wraps up phase two. Is that correct, Matt?
Matt Dull: Yeah, that's right.
Dave Blanks: And phase three is pretty much steady as she goes from the last update? Is that correct?
Matt Dull: Yeah, that's correct. Still just working on our design for phase three, or New River Hall, right now.
Dave Blanks: OK.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: We had mentioned last week — I don't know if you're ready to get into this or not — about COVID-19, it's effect on work on campus and access to materials. And we found out last week that construction still goes on. But you shared a few of the changes that Choate has employed on site. Can you share maybe a little more in depth about those?
Matt Dull: Sure, yeah.
Dave Blanks: Do you have any more information on those?
Matt Dull: Yeah. We think about our, the state of North Carolina did a stay-at-home order effective this past Monday. That order did allow for an exception for construction as an essential business and being able to keep construction going, particularly on university campuses or projects that were related to housing. We are, at this point ... Choate is still on site and subcontractors are still on site continuing to work on the project.
Matt Dull: But they're having to, like just the rest of us, they're having to think about social distancing. So, even how folks are being able to take breaks or lunch and trying to make sure they're maintaining that 6-foot rule, how they're working within the different places in the building and maintaining that 6 feet, how they're doing meetings outside, how they're doing meetings virtually, limiting ... basically not allowing things like food trucks or communal meals and that kind of thing anymore on site.
Matt Dull: Also, just making sure that they're currently doing a lot more cleaning in different areas. So, hitting the same things that you might have in your own home. So, things like door handles and light switches, restrooms, kitchens, break areas, all the different kind of equipment that might be touched. Going through on a daily basis, really doing a deep cleaning on all those commonly touched items. They're also monitoring temperature for folks coming onto the site. And they've also included hand-washing stations at the site, adding additional hand-washing stations with soap and towels and a clean water source that our subcontractors and the Choate team can use to continually wash hands throughout the day as they're on site.
Matt Dull: They're having to follow the same kind of guidelines that have been recommended by the CDC and by North Carolina's Public Health Group just like all of us are in our daily lives and really having to think about how to continue work while also keeping effective social distance and practicing good hand hygiene habits.
Matt Dull: Again, progress is still being made on the project. We've still got a lot of our subs on site and just having to change the way and think differently about how we're keeping the site running at this time.
Dave Blanks: Definitely adds a new level of difficulty for a lot of things we all took for granted. And I'm sure, no exception there on site. You had mentioned that you used to all meet in a trailer on site multiple times throughout the week. No longer can you meet inside the trailer, so how are those meetings taking place now?
Matt Dull: Yeah, doing a lot more stand-up, outdoor meetings. If we are meeting at the trailer at all, really just a handful of people — four or five folks awkwardly sitting 6 feet apart at a gigantic table.
Dave Blanks: Yeah.
Matt Dull: But same kind of things that, again, everyone else is having to think through, is just how do we do this differently? We used to have pre-site meetings with new contractors or new subs physically and a lot of that's taking place all online, even if we're all in Boone connecting on our phones or our devices to do those meetings through Zoom or on telephone or some other kind of format. Yep, just having to think differently, just like everyone else is and how we do our daily work.
Dave Blanks: We do have a website related to our response to the coronavirus, which is appstate.edu/coronavirus. If you're listening to this podcast from the link that was shared on Facebook, it should be pinned at the top of the Facebook page as well. And there's a COVID-19 hotline that you can call Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to get more information about App. A lot of parents have questions. A lot of students have questions. So the number, 828-262-2000 is our App State COVID-19 hotline if you have any questions as well.
Matt Dull: On the subject of COVID-19, right on that same page, there's also a link to the Mountaineer Emergency Relief Fund.
Dave Blanks: Yeah.
Matt Dull: Which is a really cool fund that the whole university, I think across different departments, really rallied behind to be able to provide funding for students that have urgent needs for emergency housing, emergency food, transportation, utility bills, child care needs, school supplies during this time. Certainly look at that as well if you're just perusing the COVID-19 site. There's more information on there on how to give and how to support for those who are able to. And also, if you know of students, fellow Mountaineers, that do have urgent needs for emergency funds, please direct them to that site as well.
Dave Blanks: One more time, that's appstate.edu/coronavirus and then it's right down there. It's a little yellow icon called Mountaineer Emergency Relief Fund. Yeah, a lot of people could use your help. A lot of people probably want to help but don't know exactly how and that's a way.
Dave Blanks: Well, Matt, thanks so much for your time. No dog interruptions this time.
Matt Dull: That's right.
Dave Blanks: I'm sad to say. I was kind of hoping for another guest appearance.
Matt Dull: That's right.
Dave Blanks: But yeah. So, Wyatt is one of them?
Matt Dull: Wyatt and Doc. Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday.
Dave Blanks: All right. Awesome.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Well, I hope Wyatt and Doc have a great day. I'm sure they're glad that you and your wife are spending so much time with them right now.
Matt Dull: That's right. Oh, they are.
Dave Blanks: No doubt. Well, Matt. Thanks a lot. It's great to talk to you, as always, and we will do it once again.
Matt Dull: Sounds good. Good to talk to you, Dave. Thanks.