Campus Construction Update, May 25, 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: Hey, folks. This is Dave Blanks from University Communications back once again with a Campus Construction Update, joined, as I am so often joined, by Matt Dull. Hi, Matt Dull.
Matt Dull: Hey, Dave. Good to be back. It’s been a little while.
Dave Blanks: Man, it’s really good to hear from you. I’ve missed talking to you and happy to have you.
Dave Blanks: So when we last left, Thunder Hill, which is I assume where we’ll start … when we last left Thunder Hill, countertops were going in. I remember the flooring because we talked a lot about our own experience with crummy flooring and how this flooring is not, in any way, like that flooring. I guess that’s all I recall.
Matt Dull: Yeah, we were in Building 100, specifically. Especially that center part of the building, it was still a good amount of drywall work going on before we were even moving into some of the finishing and that work is wrapped up, or is wrapping up this week.
Dave Blanks: Great!
Matt Dull: We are down to the finishing, those kind of interior finishes, right now. We talked about countertops last time. So now we’re looking at things like installing blinds, shelving, robe hooks — a place to hang your robe or your clothing while you’re in the shower.
Dave Blanks: Wow, that’s way deep down in the weeds.
Matt Dull: Mirrors, carpet in the hallways. Kind of those last little interior finishing touches are happening right now. That’s really for both buildings. Thunder Hill Hall just starting on those last interior finishes and 200 just a few weeks further along. But again, both are doing those last little bit of interior finishes inside. Pretty exciting!
Dave Blanks: Fantastic!
Matt Dull: Finishing up the drywall and then doing final paint, particularly in the corridors and the hallways. That’s really kind of the last little bit now. Drywall in the units are finished up, flooring’s in and permanent power is being connected this week and last week to the building. That’s exciting because that means you can start doing things like operating your elevators, which allow you to then start moving in furniture. Things start to move pretty quickly with filling up the building with furniture and kind of making it look like home. That all can begin once you actually start the permanent power. Once we get the permanent power set up, we get our inspections with state construction and town of Boone for power, we will be able to start doing things like operating the elevator and then be able to start moving in furniture here in just a few short weeks. It’s crazy to think about it. When we started the podcast, we were talking about a pile of dirt. Here we are a little over a year later and we’re talking about moving in furniture in just a few weeks.
Dave Blanks: It’s hard to believe! That’s really good to hear.
Dave Blanks: Hey, you were talking about paint. Who gets to pick out the paint color? Do you get to weigh in on what the paint color would be?
Matt Dull: I’m not the one that anyone wants picking paint color, or fabric patterns or carpet.
Dave Blanks: Hey, you’re a snappy dresser, come on, don’t be so harsh on yourself. Unless your wife just picks it all out, which I sincerely doubt she does.
Matt Dull: It’s a team effort.
Matt Dull: Our architect, Niles Bolton Associates, they have an interior design group within their firm. So, that group tries to help narrow down all the variety of fabric patterns and colors, carpeting that’s out there in the market. They try to look at our Appalachian colors, and we’re trying to integrate a little bit of that black and gold but not too much of the Appalachian black and gold.
Dave Blanks: Tasteful amount.
Matt Dull: Looking at other colors, similar colors that make a nice palette, that doesn’t just scream over the top Appalachian, but make it a nice, comfortable place for people to live that looks nice. The firm, they help narrow it down and usually come in with basically with a vision board, if you will, for different parts of your building. Here are some different types of furniture we’re looking for, types of chairs and couches and other soft seating, or barstools, bar height tables, and we think that will go here and here are some different types of colors we’re looking at. We have Julie Brittain, who’s our interior designer on staff at Appalachian, and she helps us make some of those decisions. Our folks in housing that both have to clean and maintain these pieces of furniture or maintain the carpet, they are engaged in the conversation as well as our Res Life staff that know everything that’s out there in our halls now and make sure we have furniture that’s going to match what students need. There’s a small group that’s been able to review all those boards, if you will, and start narrowing down choices to where we ended up.
Dave Blanks: That sounds like a lot fun. It’s cool that everybody’s coming to the table so their voice can be heard. That’s has to be a fun part of the job, I’d say.
Matt Dull: Yeah, it is really fun. They also come with renderings of what each of these spaces would look like. So, you actually start to see, ah this is what this kitchen is going to look like, or this is what this lounge space or this is what this multipurpose room’s going to look like. With the color, similar-looking carpet pattern and what the furniture is going to look like in the room, it’s pretty amazing what can be done with technology these days in terms of just really giving you a good picture of what things are going to look like when things are actually built. Pretty cool. It’s a fun experience. I think, for many folks, it’s one of their favorite part of this process, the design process, is actually picking out the finishes. It’s what really makes a difference of something looking institutional and what makes something look like home, and we’re really trying to make something look like home in our residence hall.
Dave Blanks: For sure. Well, how about we move to Building 300. Do you want to do that?
Matt Dull: Yeah, sure.
Dave Blanks: OK.
Matt Dull: Building 300 is moving along. Continuing to work on things like our concrete foundation walls. Again, those are going to set up the foundation for the building. Moving on towards the mechanical and electrical and plumbing rough-ins to be able to pour a slab. All of this is kind of slab prep. So again, when we think about where do your drains go from your sinks, toilets and showers. We’re having to do all the below slab things, all that’s being installed right now. Anything for plumbing, electrical, all the little rough-ins and conduit that needs to go below the slab is going to be started this week and continue over the next couple of weeks. The slab will be poured mid-to-late June and then the goal would be to actually begin framing by July 1. So actually starting to frame the building in about five weeks or so.
Dave Blanks: Awesome!
Matt Dull: Lot of work to get to that point, but it will be exciting. It’s always fun to actually see that start coming out of the foundation and out of the ground and start seeing the frame of the building. Still again, shooting for July 1. We’re going to have to see how the weather treats us. It looks like we’re in another week of rain.
Dave Blanks: So much rain.
Matt Dull: That always makes it tough to do a lot of those exterior things like pouring concrete for the foundation walls. Same thing trying to wrap up with Building 100 and 200. Kind of that first phase we’re trying to do a lot of these site walls and retaining walls that were poured concrete then have an elk stone, which is basically a field cut stone veneer on the outside. All that requires much better weather than what we’re getting right now. That kind of work, we’d love to be farther along on it, but that’s going to be finishing up kind of June/July time frame for all that exterior work on first phase because of just rain delays.
Dave Blanks: Right on.
Matt Dull: Still moving forward but could use a little nice weather.
Dave Blanks: What do you want to cover now that we have covered 300 Laurel Creek Hall?
Matt Dull: I guess we’re moving for on design for New River Hall or Building 400. So, moving forward with design. We’ve got our design documents with a lot of the different trade packages already in there. Not just what the exterior is going to look like and theoretically what it’s going to look like inside in terms of how units are going to lay out and where the kitchens are going to be, but starting to work on what the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems are going to look like and what the roofing systems are going to look like. So, moving forward on that design. So that’s pretty exciting to keep that moving forward. Of course, we are busy last week and this week emptying out Justice Hall. We had all of our students move out of Justice Hall by May the 17th or so.
Dave Blanks: How many were in there?
Matt Dull: Let’s see. Justice had about 320–330 students.
Dave Blanks: OK. But nobody’s on campus right now. Well, there are about 10 students currently living on campus, I heard recently.
Matt Dull: Correct.
Dave Blanks: But students’ personal belongings and things like that were on campus, still. Is that what you’re saying? We got that stuff moved out?
Matt Dull: Yeah, so everyone over the past two months students have be able to come back by appointment only and that helps us make sure there are no more than a handful of people are in each building at a time so that we can maintain social distancing or physical distancing from each other. Students have been able to continue to move out and students moved out of Justice the weekend of the 17th or so of May. And we’re busy now moving out furniture and some of that’s going to be stored and reused across our residence halls across campus. Things like network equipment, wireless access points and security cameras. We will be able to actually repurpose those in other buildings on campus as well. So, even though we are taking down the building, we’re able to use a lot of the materials, equipment and furniture that’s inside the building that still have value in other buildings on campus.
Dave Blanks: Cool.
Matt Dull: That process is happening this week. We’ll start the demo, the university will turn that building over to Choate to begin the demolition process on June 1, 2020 for demolition. They will start their work on June 1, that demolition will take place from June 1 until the middle or end of October. So it’s several months to demolish the building and we’re moving forward.
Dave Blanks: That’s a long process. I would think they would just wire it and boom goes the dynamite. But not that’s the case, huh?
Matt Dull: No, so Justice will be a mechanically demolished building.
Dave Blanks: Oh, OK.
Matt Dull: They will do it from the ground with demolition machinery instead of like an explosion, implosion kind of thing.
Dave Blanks: Why aren’t they dropping it like they dropped Winkler?
Matt Dull: Really, mechanical is certainly easier to permit, easier to do and it’s a smaller form building.
Dave Blanks: It’s not as high.
Matt Dull: It’s not as high; it’s a four-story building; it’s fairly accessible. It didn’t really make a lot of sense to do an implosion. The mechanical is probably around the same amount of time to do that.
Dave Blanks: Interesting.
Matt Dull: Of course, that time includes not only taking down the building but hauling off all the material and cutting off all the utilities and getting the site back to a site that’s ready to build on. It seems like a long period of time, but it’s a combination of actually taking the building down, hauling off all that material and getting the site prepped for construction in January for Building 400.
Dave Blanks: What else do you want to cover today, Matt? Anything else?
Matt Dull: I think that’s the updates for today. We’re just continuing to make good progress on Buildings 100, 200 and 300 and all of those are on schedule. We have great workforce with Choate and their subcontractors on site. Just trying to maintain all the requirements for things like face coverings and physical distancing while folks are on site. They’re also doing health screenings and temperature checks of employees when they come on site every morning. So again, folks are stay healthy and the project is moving forward quickly and on schedule. So, just thankful for all of our folks that are working on site every day.
Dave Blanks: Absolutely. Well, Matt, thanks man. It’s great talking to you again. We’ll have to do it more frequently, right?
Matt Dull: Yeah, that’s right. Good to talk to you and thanks for letting us share some updates.
Dave Blanks: Absolutely. Have a good week.
Matt Dull: All right. You too. Thanks, Dave.