Campus Construction Update, April 27, 2020
On this all-new Campus Construction Update, Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Matt Dull chats with University Communications' Dave Blanks concerning construction progress on Appalachian's new residence halls.
Dave Blanks: Hi, folks. It's Dave Blanks, once again, with a Campus Construction Update. And, back in the saddle, we do have Mr. Matt Dull. Hi, Matt Dull, good to have you back.
Matt Dull: Hey. Dave. Good to be back.
Dave Blanks: Yep. So last —
Matt Dull: Well, kind of back.
Dave Blanks: Kind of back. Yeah. Where are you?
Matt Dull: I'm at home. I'm not sitting in the car at this week.
Dave Blanks: OK, that's good.
Matt Dull: I'm actually sitting at the desk and shoved the dogs outside so they can be as loud as they want to.
Dave Blanks: And it's your turn to have Zoom meetings. So your wife is patiently waiting.
Matt Dull: That's right.
Dave Blanks: Yes, I'm sure she's listening. She's sitting on the couch, right? Like your band's practicing and she can't believe it and she's just in awe. All right. Yeah, it's good to have you back. I'm still here in the basement of mi casa here in Boone, and we're doing a Campus Construction Update despite our remote locations.
Matt Dull: That's right.
Dave Blanks: I had Jeff Pierce and Michelle Novacek on last week. It was good to have them, but I am glad you're back for some west side construction updates. So, do you want to start with Thunder Hill as is our wont?
Matt Dull: Yeah, sure. We'll start with Thunder Hill or Building 100. Really, a lot of focus both inside the building and outside of the building. So now that the weather's turning, looking at exterior of the building, doing things like pouring the concrete landscape walls, or the site retaining walls around the building and getting those ready. Also, doing things like continuing the brick facade throughout Building 100. Got to keep the exterior moving now that the weather's better and we can get outside and there's a lot of exterior work that needs to be done before the building can open, as well.
Matt Dull: So, that's ongoing. Inside the building, kind of working our way down. The team starts at the fifth floor of that building and kind of works their way down with every trade. Right now, we're installing all the lighting and plumbing fixtures throughout the building, so they'll start on the fifth floor and work their way down all the way to the terrace level of that bottom floor. Also doing final painting and ceiling installation, that started last week on the fourth and fifth floor upstairs and they'll continue to work their way down.
Matt Dull: So getting that final paint finished up, as well as installing the ceiling, all the drop ceiling throughout the building, starting on that top floor and working their way down. So, these are all those kind of finish work things that are really going to make it look like a building that's going to be livable.
Dave Blanks: The drop ceiling, is every floor like that? Because I know in the Student Union, there's some of that open industrial look, yeah.
Matt Dull: The industrial look, yeah. Everything in these halls do have the dropped grid ceiling like you see in more commercial settings and not necessarily the exposed industrial look like we've got in the Union. And there's a little bit of that in Summit Hall, all of the floors, not the individual rooms, but all the corridors and hallways and main floor lobbies all have that exposed look.
Matt Dull: So you can look up and see all of the pipes from the utilities. You can see the cable trays from the ethernet and everything is fairly exposed. With these buildings, they are similar to our campus standard drop ceilings, much more finished looking than the style of the early 2010s when we were working on Summit and the Student Union.
Dave Blanks: Is that a dated style now, I wonder? I wonder if that is a "Oh, that's so 2010, right there." I don't know.
Matt Dull: Well, no, the one reason we didn't really look at doing that as much in these buildings is these are people's homes. They're much more residential. And we want to make it ... having those drop ceilings and make it almost feel a little softer, more residential, more feeling like home.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, that makes sense.
Matt Dull: I know there's something about when everything's kind of open and exposed, it's a cool look, but there's something almost a little cold about it for a residence hall, and a little too institutional looking. So the finishes you'll see in these buildings, you'll have a lot more carpeting, not as much hard surface and that kind of stuff in the hallways. The rooms themselves will have an LVT flooring, it's a luxury vinyl tile or luxury vinyl plank flooring. So it looks like hardwood, but it is a floating kind of snapped-together plastic or vinyl flooring that —
Dave Blanks: That stuff has come a long way.
Matt Dull: Oh my gosh, it looks so much better. I remember my dad and I actually put down some of that flooring in our basement we were trying to finish, I don't know, 25 years ago or something like that. And it was terrible. There was —
Dave Blanks: Not even close to passable as wood.
Matt Dull: No real wear layer, at all. So any little movement on it scratched it and you could immediately see the black vinyl under it and there was just nothing to it. And the stuff that's being installed today, this flooring has a cork backing to it for helping the sound. It's got a nice thick wear layer on it because, the students, will move in furniture and desk chairs and all sorts of stuff over these floors. They need to be pretty resilient.
Matt Dull: They've got a much better wear layer than you might see even in some residential applications for LVT. This is a much more commercial-level LVT. It's also super easy to replace. You'll see in a lot of our buildings on campus, we use LVT, as well as these carpet squares, instead of broadloom carpet. And that way, if someone scratches one of the LVT planks, you can literally take it out. You can use a box cutter, basically, and cut down the middle of it, pop it out and pop a new one right back in and it's good to go. So it allows us to have a pretty quick maintenance fix for issues. And same thing with the carpet squares you'll see in a lot of our buildings on campus now.
Dave Blanks: That's what we have in our department, as well. I don't know if you can hear, but I think they're moving a couch or two into our kitchen, which is right above me. I don't know what they're doing up there.
Dave Blanks: It sounds like they were demonstrating what it would sound like if they didn't have the cork backing on that LVT. I think that's what they're doing. Now, it just sounds like the Thunderdome up there. My children —
Matt Dull: Reminds me of a recent commercial with a certain insurance company, talking about how nice their apartment was except they have a clogger problem. And there's people clogging upstairs for doing the laundry and clogging and cooking in the kitchen and clogging.
Dave Blanks: That's what it feels like down here sometimes. Well, that's interesting about the LVT. That's pretty cool. So, they're doing the ceilings, they're doing the paint, and —
Matt Dull: Yep. LVT installation starting in the units. All the light fixtures and plumbing fixtures are going in. Toilets and sinks, those are all being installed. And then also finishing up now and working their way down on ceramic tile and the restrooms. As well as all the countertops and the restrooms and in kitchens and other common space surfaces. So, really moving forward in a lot of different finishes in the building. Those upper floors are really getting to where they really look fairly finished.
Dave Blanks: Nice.
Matt Dull: It's really nice, so —
Dave Blanks: Cool. Do you want to go on to ... Wait a minute. Hold on. OK. They're still moving stuff up there. I'm going to cut this out. What are you guys doing up there? Do you want to go on to Raven —
Matt Dull: I hope you keep that in.
Dave Blanks: All right, Matt, do you want to move to Raven Rocks? I'm messing that up. It's just Raven Rock.
Matt Dull: No, it's Raven Rocks. You're right.
Matt Dull: Oh, it is? I was right. How have I not committed this to memory? It's shameful. My apologies, but Raven Rocks.
Dave Blanks: Raven Rocks Hall, Building 200. Very similar progress to Raven Rocks as it is in Thunder Hall. So again, finishing up the brick facade in the next week or so on that building. Starting this week, we'll also be installing the standing seam metal roof. There's that high roof on the building. It's not over the entire building. Most of the building is a flat roof, but there is a high roof section that's got that classic Hartford green steel standing seam metal roof on there, so that will be installed this week. Which is exciting, to see the building capped off with campus-standard green, what we've all known and love. That's going on this week. And then inside the building, very similar to Building 100, hanging ceilings, doing sink and toilet installation and other plumbing fixtures, cabinets and countertops are being installed.
Matt Dull: LVT installation's starting at the upper floors. Ceramic tile is wrapping up, as well as the countertops are wrapping up in Building 200, Raven Rocks. That's so hard to get used to, I know it's —
Dave Blanks: I know.
Matt Dull: Again, very similar progress being made in both of those buildings, 100 and 200. As we go into the warmer months, we'll be able to also continue to do more things outside of the building and getting the outside done. Let's see. There are also these little ... On 200 and 100, as well, but we're getting ready work on this now on 200. There are these glass, it's opposite of the stairwell in those buildings, that go all the way from floor to ceiling, almost like what you might see on a storefront. It's like a storefront glass system.
Dave Blanks: Just letting that natural light pour in there.
Matt Dull: Letting natural light in. They'll create these little nooks that ... we're actually going to be able to have a little study nooks on each floor, and that'll be on both sides of the building. So there'll be a cool ... I think we're putting two pieces of furniture. They're basically two little ... they're not recliners, but bigger.
Dave Blanks: Chaise lounge, just a chaise lounge.
Matt Dull: Yeah, exactly. Putting those in there, and they'll have little writing desks that you can pull over, so you can pop your laptop on the little desk, do assignments and that kind of stuff and just create these nice little warm spaces with lots of glass and that can look out on campus as well. The glass will be actually going in those spaces this week. So we've left those spaces open because they're really easy accessible places to be able to get in large things like sheets of plywood, large things like sheets of drywall, and not having to worry about taking them up the stairs or the elevator or something like that.
Matt Dull: We are finishing up the need for leaving those open and glass should be going in this week, in those study nooks. So, really, in the next week or so, should finish up that high roof with the standing seam metal roof, should finish up the brick facade, as well as getting all this storefront glass in all these study nooks. So the exterior of the building will be fairly finished here in the next couple of weeks, to really where folks that are driving by or taking a look at pictures on the website of the progress being made, that it really is going to look like a nice final building from the exterior. And again, now that we're hitting more of the warmer months, we're going to start being able to hit things like the site walls and all the rock work that goes on on the site walls, sidewalks, planting, landscaping, that kind of thing will start here in the next few weeks as well, so people will start seeing a nice finished, polished look on the outside of 100 and 200.
Dave Blanks: That goes well with Boone in spring, for sure.
Matt Dull: Yeah, no kidding.
Dave Blanks: It's a pretty time.
Matt Dull: Great time to be outside, as we're able.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, I know. All right, cool. Well, what else you got, maybe on Laurel Creek?
Matt Dull: So Laurel Creek Hall or Building 300, continuing our work on concrete foundations. That really began a couple of weeks ago, and we'll be continuing to work on concrete foundations for that building. And then also working on waterproofing for those foundation walls as those go in, will start this week, as well.
Matt Dull: Making progress there, and there's also some site utility work with some of our steam rerouting or new steam lines that we're putting in, that's happening as well. Lots going on across the way over at the site, Building 300's already making good progress.
Dave Blanks: That's awesome. It is altogether so impressive that construction moves on in a safe manner and this isn't causing us, at least so far, any significant delays, from what I understand.
Matt Dull: Yeah, no significant delays to date, and still a good number of our subcontractors on site and folks on site taking lots of extra precautions to be able to get work done. And a lot of folks are working in very, very small crews or one-person crews, just working in their little area of the building and really, like all of us, working on keeping socially distanced from others on-site and practicing good hygiene, like we've talked about in some of the past podcasts.
Dave Blanks: It's just hard to Zoom up some drywall, you know? Kind of hard to do that.
Matt Dull: It's hard to do in a Zoom meeting, yeah.
Dave Blanks: I don't know. I might be able to do as good a job during a Zoom meeting as I would in real life.
Matt Dull: That's probably about as useful as I am as well.
Dave Blanks: Exactly. Well, thanks for your time as always, Matt. We'll do it again. Stay safe, and it's good talking to you.
Matt Dull: Absolutely. Good to talk to you.