Campus Construction Update, May 15, 2019
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Matt Dull addresses the most frequently asked questions concerning Appalachian's west side campus construction.
Dave Blanks: Hi, folks. This is Dave Blanks from University Communications, and I'm joined by Assistant Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations, Mr. Matt Dull. Once again back in the studio. Hey, Matt.
Matt Dull: Hi ya, Dave. Thanks for having me back.
Dave Blanks: Yeah. I'm glad you're here. So what's going on with west side construction? We'll get right into it.
Matt Dull: Yeah, let's jump right into it. So we've had a good couple of weeks. It's been so nice to be able to say that, that we've had some good weather weeks.
Dave Blanks: When you said it, I felt my heart jump.
Matt Dull: Yeah, it's been a trend here. So we've been really lucky this spring to have a lot of really great weeks. And we've been able to get a lot of work done. Really, starting with the parking deck; that is the project that has the quickest turnaround and needing to be delivered. And we are moving forward pretty quickly. The team will be finishing up that precast construction of the deck within the week. So all of the actual precast concrete sections of the deck will actually be placed on-site really probably by the end of this week or early next week. And that means the crane actually will be leaving the site by mid-May, and we will be really focusing on all of the finishing work that needs to happen in that parking deck to have it open for this fall.
So, again, it will look like a parking deck in another few days here. And that includes all of the brickwork. It's really kind of cool how they do it; they actually inlay the brick in the concrete. And so it'll have this kind of brick façade on the building. And when they're actually forming those concrete panels, they put the brick in first, and kind of put this plastic retainer to it to keep the bricks in place. And then they pour the concrete over it, take the plastic out and the brick is actually inlaid in the pieces. So you don't have someone in the field on-site —
Dave Blanks: Laying it.
Matt Dull: — laying the bricks.
Dave Blanks: Wow.
Matt Dull: So that's even done in the factory. So the façade of the building will look like the final façade.
Dave Blanks: How many levels is it?
Matt Dull: So the parking deck has four levels. We kind of stair step up that hill. So, for the listeners that remember Winkler Residence Hall, it actually kind of almost had three tiers of how it kind of stepped up the hillside. And so the parking deck does the same thing. As you know, constructing in the mountains, you can run into a lot of below-the-ground issues with things like rock. And so, we wanted to be careful, for the budget's sake, to actually really work with the topography there.
And so there's kind of a bottom layer of that parking deck that has a little over 20 parking spaces. So it's a pretty small area. It also has some of our accessible spaces for handicap and accessible spaces right there on the ground level. And then it stair steps its way up. So that next layer up is three-quarters of the full length of the parking deck. And then the last two floors of the parking deck are full level, so they go the entire length of the parking deck. So it kind of walks its way up old Winkler Hill. Four levels, about 477 parking spaces.
Dave Blanks: And when you actually will be able to park in it will be August.
Matt Dull: August, that's right. We will have it open for this August, start of classes for the fall semester, as well for the football season, which will start in August as well.
Dave Blanks: Cool. Sounds good.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Yeah. Big progress on that parking deck.
Matt Dull: Big progress on the parking deck. Man, it will be exciting to see all of the precast done and the crane removed. They started on Friday pumping concrete to form what they call the topping layer. So that topping layer is what kind of evens out each of those trays. So as you put in the prefab, they may not quite have the levelness that you may want to drive on, and so they actually do a topping layer, and that's to add a little bit more structure to the parking deck, but also helps kind of level out each of the levels. That started on Friday and will continue for the next few weeks.
And then after that, really a lot of the work that's left is really around things like installing the elevator. Things like installing the stairwells for access to each level. Electrical. Connecting the drainage system, so you've got to pull any kind of water, as it rains on that top layer, you've got to put that water somewhere. Otherwise you end up with a swimming pool.
Dave Blanks: Yes, and you don't want that.
Matt Dull: You don't want that in a parking deck. So we've got to put in drainage. And security cameras, and electrical. So all those things are kind of those next steps once the prefab and those topping layers are done. And we actually have some of those trades on site now going ahead and doing work while they can. We've got to stay on schedule; we've got a tight schedule for this summer. But the team has just done an amazing job of staying on schedule for fall delivery.
Dave Blanks: Fantastic. What else, Matt?
Matt Dull: So there's some other things happening this week. As classes have finished up, exams have happened, and graduation's happened, we are now moving into expanding the fence line for our construction site. So, most of Stadium Lot, starting this week, will be fenced off and will be part of the lay down area. So kind of the storage area for the finishing of the construction of building 100 and 200. So that's where we may be able to put materials we're about ready to install. We're moving a lot of dirt around.
Dave Blanks: Yes, I'd noticed.
Matt Dull: That big gigantic pile of dirt keeps moving. And it gives us some space outside of the construction area, or kind of outside of the foundation of the building, to store some of that fill. Most of that Stadium Parking Lot's going to be blocked off starting this week. And then, eventually, that will become the footprint to building 300. And it will also eventually become a part of that new mall area, that green space area, between building 200 and 300. So we're moving forward with fencing that off now, so that we can not only construct Building 100 and 200, but then that becomes the location for building 300.
Dave Blanks: Got you.
Matt Dull: So it'll be fenced off basically from now until building 300 is delivered in fall of 2021. So getting started there. Obviously, students that have parked there, those parking spaces in Stadium Lot after this summer will be replaced by spaces that are in that new parking deck, which will be open for this fall. So it's about an even number of space trade from what was in Stadium Lot to what's going to be in that parking deck. So that will open up this fall and give students a place to park in the fall, instead of that large Stadium Lot that we're getting ready to fence off.
Dave Blanks: Right. And it will, in the end, be more green space where the Stadium Lot used to be?
Matt Dull: Absolutely. So a large part of what was Stadium Lot will be green space for students, for student events. I just can't wait to see things like our Homecoming pep rally and maybe doing something like that in that space. Other concerts or other kind of events. It really is trying to create another space like a Sanford Mall, like we have now. And I really hope that we can do more student events on that side of campus, and that central courtyard space. If you think about it, we'll have, just in those three buildings, almost 1,500 students just around that one area. So, we want to create a lively green space where students are out, when we can be out in the mountains here.
Dave Blanks: I don't see how it won't be really lively. Because Sanford Mall is not surrounded by residences.
Matt Dull: Residential, yeah.
Dave Blanks: Yeah.
Matt Dull: I think it's going to be really exciting.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, it's going to be cool.
Matt Dull: We've got a little growing pains here over the next couple of years, but in the end, I think it's exciting to have that much green space put back on west campus. And to have that green space surrounded by those residential buildings. And I think it's going to be exciting to program and do different events in that space. And also it'll be a great spot for tailgating, for football games and just other kind of events that we do on campus. It just provides another outdoor space for us. So it's exciting when we can get that finished up.
Dave Blanks: Looking forward to it.
Matt Dull: Yeah. As we also close off Stadium Lot this summer, we're going to try to start limiting the amount of traffic that comes down that area, just for safety, and really allowing our contractors to do as much work over the summer as possible. So when you go down Jack Branch Road, people may not even know the road name. It's called Stadium Heights Drive, which is actually the loop road that went around Stadium Parking Lot. We're actually going to try to make ... I know.
Dave Blanks: I didn't know that. Stadium Heights Drive.
Matt Dull: Stadium Heights Drive. As you're coming up Jack Branch Road, we're going to try to make that right-hand turn on Stadium Heights Drive, going in front of Eggers and Bowie and down towards Trivette Hall, make that access to be for pickup and drop off from the buildings, for handicap-accessible parking and for service vehicles only. There's really going to be a very limited number of spaces in that area remaining after we put the fencing up. And really it's just for the safety of people visiting that part of campus.
And so, people can certainly continue to park at Justice Lot, right across the street from Trivet Hall, between Justice and Gardner Coltrane. We'll have some parking for some of our summer camp programs and Res Life staff up behind Eggers and Bowie Hall. But we're really trying to keep traffic limited as much as possible down that Stadium Heights Drive, just for the summer, to really keep that area as safe as possible. So really just for pickup, drop off, handicap-accessible parking for Newland and Trivette and Wey Hall and those areas. And just service vehicles that need to service those buildings.
So a few changes happening up there in that area in terms of how most of us may be navigating that space over the next few weeks and months. But it's really just trying to look out for the safety of all those that need to get around in those areas.
We have gone ahead and actually marked off the pedestrian path on how students and some of our campers that will be staying on campus this summer in our residence halls. We've already marked out the pedestrian path and have it separately striped on the path they should follow through the site. And we will have people with vests directing traffic and making sure that our construction traffic is stopped when people are in those pedestrian crosswalks throughout the summer. And really throughout the next phase, and really into phase two of the project, any time that construction vehicular traffic may be crossing one of those pedestrian access lanes, we will make sure that we have appropriate staff to be able to make sure that construction traffic stops, or our pedestrian traffic stops, to make sure everyone can cross those intersections as safely as possible.
Dave Blanks: What I've noticed is, on Stadium since construction has started, because I've said before that I commute over Stadium, people are way more mindful of the pedestrian crosswalk that's on Stadium Drive right there at Trivette than they ever were before.
Matt Dull: Oh sure, yeah. I have noticed that too.
Dave Blanks: I've always tried to be mindful of it, but I'm way more mindful. I'm trying to make it as easy as possible for pedestrians to cross. I know that's a big part of what we're doing over there with that path through the area.
Matt Dull: Yeah. And I do encourage, if there are students or faculty or staff that are parking in those areas or are walking through those areas, if you see things that feel like unsafe conditions, please let us know. Feel free to reach out to me, or feel free to reach out to our Design and Construction team on campus, our Office of Planning, Design and Construction, and we'll address that with the contractor and make sure that we are creating a safe environment for our students, our faculty, staff, our guests. We do have a significant number of campers that'll be here this summer. We do a variety of adult camps as well as youth camps throughout the summer on campus, and we're trying to make sure it's a safe site for them as well.
Dave Blanks: What's the best way for somebody to reach out to you, Matt?
Matt Dull: Sure. My email address is probably the best way. I'm at Dull, D-U-L-L MC @astate.edu. And they can, again, also reach out to Planning, Design and Construction on campus, who help with a lot of the day-to-day in working with the contractors and making sure that we have a safe construction site and a safe campus on west campus during this exciting time of expansion on campus.
Dave Blanks: So constructive construction criticism.
Matt Dull: Constructive construction criticism.
Dave Blanks: Is welcome, right? I mean, please —
Matt Dull: Yeah, it's welcome. We want to make sure that this is a safe environment, for all students. And we've heard a lot of different comments from people, and we take it seriously, and we pull the whole team together, and we hear concerns from students or others that have expressed concerns, and we pull the team together and we make a plan on how to make it better. I would say that Choate, which is our contractor on this, have been really responsive to making more signs, or even things like taking down some of the black wind screening around some of the intersections —
Dave Blanks: I noticed that.
Matt Dull: — so you can actually see cars, the other car or people getting ready to cross at that intersection. And those comments came from people that listen to this podcast, or from students on campus. And those have made a big difference in how we have made changes on the site. And so they've been very responsive and want to make sure not only the site itself is safe, but how students, faculty, staff and guests who cross through the site or interact with the site in any way, are as safe as possible. So that is our primary concern throughout the project.
Dave Blanks: Awesome. Anything else, Matt?
Matt Dull: I think that's —
Dave Blanks: Inclusion peers?
Matt Dull: Yeah, we're continuing with the rigid inclusion peers. Almost done with that. So that fun Scrabble word or crossword answer.
Dave Blanks: I haven't worked it into in my everyday conversation, but I'm really trying.
Matt Dull: We are about to finish that up, we're really moving into more of the foundations, more of the large retaining walls and site walls right now. So, the time that we're going to be able to work that into this podcast is coming to an end. But we'll find another fun word to include in the podcast.
Dave Blanks: I'm sure there will be more as we go along.
Matt Dull: I'm going to intentionally try to find some more.
Dave Blanks: Please, come up with some strange insider speak that we can share on the podcast.
Matt Dull: Yeah, it's like a word of the day.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, let's do it. We'll have a segment. A special segment. Matt, is there anything else?
Matt Dull: I think that's it. Just congratulations to all of our graduates on Appalachian's campus. We know it's been a long road for many of you, and we're just so excited for all the things that are coming for you, and hope that you can come back to this campus and be proud of what all of us are doing, not just in this project, but all of the other faculty and staff members that work hard every day, are doing, to make this a great place. And so congratulations to our graduates, and best wishes on your next step.
Dave Blanks: Well said. I second that. Matt, thanks a lot.
Matt Dull: Hey, thanks so much. Appreciate it.