Campus Construction Update, June 17, 2019
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Matt Dull shares updates concerning construction projects on Appalachian's campus, including building progress for the parking deck at the site of former Winkler Hall, as well as how construction crews have been handling the recent rain.
Dave Blanks: Hi, folks. This is Dave Blanks from University Communications joined once again by Matt Dull. Hello, Matt Dull!
Matt Dull: Hey, Dave. Good to be back.
Dave Blanks: Man, it's great to have you back. I'm glad you're here. We had a little break from these, but I guess that the people on-site did not take a break.
Matt Dull: They did not. They have not gone anywhere other than I think some pretty long days on-site
Dave Blanks: A lot of water pumping going on last week, right?
Matt Dull: Oh yeah. Last week was an interesting week, right around 10 inches of rain fell in Boone in the previous weekend. So, a lot of last week was spent pumping and trying to get a lot of the water out of the site so we can actually start doing a lot of the foundation work. Still got a lot of stuff done, but just a tough week of trying to get it, get things dried up again.
Dave Blanks: That's kind of the exception for the last little bit here. We've had some really good days.
Matt Dull: We really had a few months in a row, almost, of just really great days, very limited amount of rain. And if it did, it dried up and cleared up pretty quickly. So we've been really lucky this spring, with the amount of just great weather days we've had so far. So ...
Dave Blanks: Are we still on schedule?
Matt Dull: Yeah, still on schedule on both projects, for both the parking deck and the building projects. So, still they're, they're just knocking things out left and right, even though the weather's bad, so.
Dave Blanks: Remind me of the delivery dates.
Matt Dull: Sure. So, the parking deck delivery date, we are on schedule to open up for an August 2019 opening, so in time for fall semester and fall football and move-in day is kind of right there in the middle of August and they'll be open for move-in.
Dave Blanks: It looks, it looks fantastic as far as ... the parking deck looks so good.
Matt Dull: Oh, I know. The brickwork and everything really kind of fits in with that side of campus. Ted LeJeune, who's been the university's project manager on the project and I have kind of been going back and forth. We did quite a bit of going back and forth with a contractor and having different samples, you know, come in and going up to the buildings beside it, like Frank and Belk with these big samples of brick and you know, trying to make sure it matches not only the brick, but you have to think about even like the mortar that's between the brick — does this actually ...
Dave Blanks: What about the spacing on the mortar? Is that different?
Matt Dull: The spacing and the color. Like it, it really needs to match, because those are the kinds of things that you don't think about, but when it's wrong —
Dave Blanks: It shows.
Matt Dull: You notice
Dave Blanks: Yeah, you notice.
Matt Dull: Every little detail really has to be thought of in these kind of projects because there are buildings that are staying, so like Frank and Belk are literally right beside that parking deck and they're staying. They'd been renovated recently. So, we've got to match that and also make it match what we're building in the new buildings as well. So, it's always kind of a fun game trying to figure out what's going to make it look like it's been here forever.
Dave Blanks: Right, right. It totally fits.
Matt Dull: It fits. It looks like it's supposed to be there. There's some continuity between how it looks and how all the other buildings look. So it's going to have those green metal roofs, like we see everywhere else on campus, on the top of the parking deck, kind of at the top of each one of those stair towers and elevator towers. You know, it's going to have the green-trimmed windows, so it's going to look like that kind of residential part of campus. It's exciting to have that kind of fit and complement what's going on there and not just being a gigantic concrete structure.
Dave Blanks: Right. So that's a delivery date of August 2019. So this year, coming, right? Coming up soon.
Matt Dull: A couple of months out.
Dave Blanks: How about the one on Duck Pond?
Matt Dull: So, building 100 and 200, again, we are moving forward for an August 2020 move-in. So we've got around 14 months. Doesn't seem possible that we're already there, but we have about 14 months left of construction on building 100 and building 200 and should be open for fall 2020.
Dave Blanks: Give me some updates, Matt Dull.
Matt Dull: Sure. So let's start with the parking deck. All of those precast panels are in place. The crane left the site a few weeks ago, so we are rocking and rolling over there. If you have not been over on that side of campus, it looks like a parking deck.
Dave Blanks: Yeah. It's awesome.
Matt Dull: It looks like you could kind of roll up and go ahead and start parking there.
Dave Blanks: Don't do that yet!
Matt Dull: Don't do that yet. Wait a couple of months. But it is on schedule and we've got about 95% of the remaining concrete work complete. So, a lot of it's prefab, but there are things like the little, the bridge that goes kind of behind Eggers and Bowie, that parking lot onto the top level of the parking deck. You know part of that was prefab. Part of that had to be poured in place. Some of the topping layers, we talked about that in one of our past podcasts, those topping layers help kind of even out the deck surface, as well as there's a couple of places where we're not precast and we're actually having to pour on grade on-site. So about 95% of that work's done. Things like elevator lobbies, things like some of the stairwells and sidewalks that are around the parking deck. So, we don't think about it sometimes. How do you get to the parking deck if you're a pedestrian? Where is an accessible path, if you're in a wheelchair, how do I get to a elevator? How do I get to the handicap stalls that are available, the accessible stalls that are available in the parking deck? So, all of those things are kind of going in now. A Lot of those are things that are not precast, but we're having to cast in place on-site. So that's the work that's happening. Last week and this week and over the next few weeks, things like curb and gutters — how do you get rid of all the stormwater? All the water that comes when you got nine or 10 inches of rain like a few weeks ago.
Dave Blanks: Very important.
Matt Dull: Where does it go? And so those are the kinds of things we're working on now. All of those systems that help pull that water off the site and really get it into our stormwater system behind the scenes. That's what's kind of left, like I said, it looks like a parking deck, but there's a lot of small little detail things that are being finished up. Lot of work being done on those stair towers and elevator towers. So, the front part of that parking deck actually has two towers. One tower has the elevator in it; one tower has stairs in it. A lot of that was prefab, but a lot of the interior really has to be poured. The concrete has to be poured in place there. Things like the elevator, has to be installed. So that installation has begun for the elevator. Handrails for the stairs. Again, a lot of these little detail things we don't think about a lot when we go into a parking deck or a building. But they're really important.
Dave Blanks: At least you're not at the mercy of the weather while you're doing these inside jobs.
Matt Dull: And a lot of that stuff, a lot of that finishing work that can be done every day, regardless of the weather, is being done now in that parking deck. And then also things like windows — both the stair tower and the elevator tower will have windows on it to bring in natural light. You know, there's all those little last finish things like grading around the site, trying to get some of the hardscaping in, landscaping. All of those things will happen over the next few months, this summer. So, really it's all that finishing work, and it's the stuff that takes a lot of time, but you don't really think about it.
Dave Blanks: What else?
Matt Dull: So, for building 100 and 200, we're continuing site work. That seems to be the theme and for a little while it is, you know, all those underground utilities, things like stormwater. We've got another few weeks or so left until that stormwater system is completely finished and operational. So, it'll actually start working on the site and helping move water to our stormwater system. On building 100, the team has continued to install footings and foundation walls for the building. We finished up the rigid inclusion piers.
Dave Blanks: I couldn't remember it. I knew that was what you're going to say when you just started saying footers. I was like, "Oh, what was that ... what was it called?" All right, good.
Matt Dull: So all of that is, is finished up and we're really moving now on to finishing up the footings and foundations for building 100. Again, building 100 is the larger building, almost 600 beds right on the corner of Jack Branch Road, Stadium Drive, right where kind of Duck Pond Field was. So that building is continuing to move forward with footings and foundation. Building 200, that's the building kind of on the part of Stadium Lot closest to Jack Branch Road and the Athletics Complex. We are now forming and pouring structural walls. That'll be part of that first floor of the building. There are also, all right, here's a fun, another fun little term —
Dave Blanks: Cool. Yeah. Maybe we can incorporate this.
Matt Dull: They are putting in the elevator and stair towers by doing, by installing CMU blocks.
Dave Blanks: Oh, the CMU blocks.
Matt Dull: So, concrete masonry units.
Dave Blanks: I like it!
Matt Dull: Concrete masonry units. CMU.
Dave Blanks: I'm going to write it. I'm going to put it on a sticky note.
Matt Dull: Some people may refer to those as cinder blocks.
Dave Blanks: Ah, yes. Concrete, but concrete masonry —
Matt Dull: Concrete masonry units. CMU.
Dave Blanks: Cinder blocks. I'm going to just be pretentious and start calling them CMU blocks.
Matt Dull: That's right. When you go to Lowe's hardware —
Dave Blanks: Got any CMU blocks?
Matt Dull: See what kind of looks you get. But yeah, we're now laying the CMU blocks for those stair towers and elevator shafts. You know, a lot of those things ... have you ever seen like a hotel being built or apartment buildings —
Dave Blanks: In Boone? Yes, I have.
Matt Dull: Yeah. So you know, when you, when you see those being built, you know, they, they put the foundation in first and then you see the towers.
Dave Blanks: The skeleton.
Matt Dull: You know, it was like, wait a minute. Why is there these big kind of almost chimney-looking things that are coming out of this building? And that's what, that's kind of that next step that we're moving into now is building these CMU block, stair towers and elevator towers. So, those will be started the next week or so and we'll continue those over the next few weeks on building 200. That team will shift over to building 100 once building 200 is done. That masonry group will be moving over to building 100.
Dave Blanks: So, progress on 100 and 200.
Matt Dull: So, progress continues on building 100, 200. The steam line, we started that project, if you've been on-site, you've noticed that Jack Branch Road is temporarily down to about one lane or so, a little bit larger than one lane (with) flaggers on each end of Jack Branch Road letting that one-way traffic through. That is to install a steam line that goes right along the sidewalk beside Jack Branch Road on the housing side or the Duck Pond Field side of Jack Branch Road. That steam line is going to help support not only our housing project but also helps really create this loop, which is a backup for all the other buildings that use steam in that area. So, the Athletics Complex, the Quinn Center, Trivette Hall, Frank, Belk, Wey — all those buildings feed off of that steam line and we're creating, we're redoing the steam loop, which allows us to shut down buildings if we need to make repairs on the building but not shut down the entire steam system. So, that's being replaced while we're actually doing all this housing as well. Jack Branch will be returned to two lanes before we start move-in in the fall and in August. Hopefully before then, but, and they'll continue some of the other steam-related work. There's even some work that goes, will go on behind the Gardener and Coltrane buildings, all the way up to kind of the corner of Jack Branch Road and Stadium Heights Drive, kind of the big loop road around Stadium Drive. That's the official name of that road. So, that steam line is going to be replaced all the way from behind Gardner, Coltrane all the way up to Stadium Heights Drive.
Dave Blanks: Anything else, Matt?
Matt Dull: Continuing our design for building 300. We've talked about that a few times in the past few months over the podcast. So, there are really kind of three design phases. That first phase is what we called schematic design. Schematic design is when you're kind of developing your program for the building. So what kind of spaces are going to be in there? What kind of amenities do you want to have? What kind of things in the common spaces, how many beds do you want to put in? And the designers help us think about the size of the building, location of these different spaces, the relationship between those spaces, like what needs to be beside each other. Does it make sense to put the laundry room right beside residents or is that going to be a little too noisy? That schematic design phase, you're thinking about spaces, what needs to be in there and how they relate to each other. So we finished up that phase about a month or two ago. We're now in what's called the design development phase.
Dave Blanks: Actually putting pencil to paper, I bet.
Matt Dull: Yeah, it's starting to put pencil to paper a little bit, it's starting to actually get the requirements together of, what does zoning require the outside of the building to look like? What does the building code require? Hey, if you're gonna put in a laundry room then you need approximately this much space for the chase for the exhaust and where does it get exhausted from? And it's really kind of when you get more pen to paper or more, more informed design, it's beyond just kind of how do things relate to each other and it's more to, all right, we're actually going to build this thing. You know, what is the size requirement of these? Where do they need to go? Where do you put a secure door? Wou know, where do you put doors that you actually have card swipes on to keep parts of the building just for residents and maybe parts of the building that are open for the public for certain times of the day. We're kind of in that phase now. We've just finished up that design development phase. Our designers have finished up their, their work on it. There'll be sending those designs to the university, and then the university will have a chance to look at those designs and really start providing feedback. We'll actually spend time with all of our different shops on campus, so our different trades. So like our electricians, our plumbers, our housekeeping folks, our grounds people. Everybody will take a look at those initial designs and provide feedback, and then that feedback will be put together and given to the designer to make edits for the last phase — construction documents or CDs. So it's SD, schematic design, DD, design development, and CD, construction documents.
Dave Blanks: SD. DD. CD.
Matt Dull: So, we're at the last phase, which we'll start for building 300 in late July or so. Early August we'll be that CD phase. And that's where we're really, it's all of the systems. You know, it's, it's when you, your engineers start planning all of the building systems, your mechanical, your electrical, your plumbing, they'll start looking at HVAC systems. They'll start looking at all the stuff that needs to happen below the ground. So, all of those kinds of systems will start being really designed at that phase and fleshed out. But the CDs is really kind of getting you to a place where you can actually start building off of the documents. And so, that will be the phase we'll start at the kind of tail end of the summer, beginning of the school year so that we can start construction in February of 2020 for building 300.
Dave Blanks: So, say I have a really great idea for the building.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Is there a way that I can share that with somebody and have them either say "Yeah, that's a really great idea," or like —
Matt Dull: Yeah, sure.
Dave Blanks: No, Dave.
Matt Dull: Yeah, people can, can certainly reach out to me.
Dave Blanks: Do they? Has anybody reached out to you and said, "Hey, Matt, you really need to make a space for whatever — x, y, z."
Matt Dull: So, you know, we've involved, just a lot of different groups in these conversations. And a lot of times the most feedback comes from doing presentations. So, then a lot of presentations on campus over the past year or so ... did one actually two weeks ago with all of our student employee supervisors, not necessarily exactly related or have a lot of housing experience, but we wanted to keep them up to date on what's going on on campus this year and where they may have questions from students that work with them on, "Hey, what's going on over there?" Then they can be knowledgeable about it. But every one of those settings you end up with really good questions and people asking questions about how it's going to work or where's this gonna go, or have you thought about, so I think most of the feedback has really come from those kind of information sessions on campus and less kind of direct email. But those forums have really been a good place to get feedback from people. In addition to actually going out and meeting with the people that are actually going to be maintaining these buildings and saying, what do you think about, what do you think about this material we're going to use? What do you think about this setup? What do you think about this room being next to this room? And then working with students and talking with just different student groups about what they want in the buildings, how they want the buildings to operate, types of amenities they're looking for. You know, I think that's why, you know, design-wise, there's a good amount of common space in these buildings, specifically group study rooms. Because when we went out and talked to students, that was one of the biggest things that they felt were lacking on campus was group study spaces.
Dave Blanks: In the residence halls?
Matt Dull: Well not just the residence halls, just anywhere.
Dave Blanks: Well, not in the parking deck though.
Matt Dull: Not In the parking deck. But that was one of the biggest things students felt like were not available. The library has a handful.
Dave Blanks: I was going to say the library.
Matt Dull: Some of our newer buildings have some rooms that are more focused around group study, but a lot of our buildings don't.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, that's super interesting.
Matt Dull: So, yeah. So incorporating group study rooms into the residence halls so students can actually find group study spaces in their building. And it's a way to help the academic mission of the university when we're building these buildings that are traditionally seen as more places where people sleep. And we're trying to create places where people actually are building community and also able to work on their academic endeavors as well. So creating spaces like classrooms in some of our buildings, study spaces on every floor of buildings. It's really trying to create academic spaces and residence halls. So it really is multipurpose space; it's not just spaces where people go and lay their head down at night, but it's places where people live and it's places where people study and spaces where people are engaged in the community.
Dave Blanks: If it's anything like how my experience was, I mean, you're in the dorm and you're, well, the residence halls, sorry. A lot of the people that are on your hall, in your whole building, are in a lot of the same classes that you have.
Matt Dull: Yeah. Especially your first year or two in school and you're taking general education classes and there's a lot more overlap.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, for sure.
Matt Dull: Regardless of what your major is, of students and a lot more overlap in the, in residence halls. And so it's really easy I think to be in the same residence hall with people that you're in class with.
Dave Blanks: I really like that idea.
Matt Dull: Yeah. You know, part of these buildings will be some common spaces that will be open for public use, beyond just people living in those buildings. So there are some kind of multipurpose rooms and classroom-type space and study room spaces that are actually in the common areas that will be available for any residential student to be able to use. And so, that'll be really nice, not just for people that happen to be in these buildings, but for students that live in Frank or Belk. It might be convenient to walk next door to building 300 and use those spaces as well.
Dave Blanks: Definitely.
Matt Dull: So it's pretty exciting to be looking at these as more than just replacing beds but having places where people live but also places where people can build community in places where people can study and places where we may have classes, where students will go to these buildings for class.
Dave Blanks: Or if you had a group.
Matt Dull: Yeah, meet in my building; we'll go to use the group study room on the third floor.
Dave Blanks: That's awesome.
Matt Dull: A lot of cool opportunities here to be able to meet student needs that it's really tough to do with existing spaces, to take out existing spaces that are currently classrooms or offices. It's tough to carve out those spaces that are really needed on campus. We have a really high utilization of our space on campus and it's really hard to carve out those spaces for things like group study rooms or, or just study spaces, quiet spaces for students to be. And so it's really exciting to be able to incorporate that into these buildings. This is an opportunity to do that. We don't have those opportunities. They don't come around a lot.
Dave Blanks: No. I know like in the history of Appalachian, I feel like this is a rare moment.
Matt Dull: Yeah, it really is. I mean, and thinking about redesigning 14 acres of campus and redoing sidewalks and utilities and rethinking those spaces.
Dave Blanks: Yeah. It's enormous.
Matt Dull: This is exciting for Appalachian and being a graduate, this is pretty cool to see and pretty exciting to see how this is going to change west campus and provide even more than what was there before.
Dave Blanks: I agree. Matt Dull, do you have any more updates, sir?
Matt Dull: No more updates this week, but look forward to telling you more about all the exciting progress on the projects.
Dave Blanks: Me too. I know there will be even more to talk about next week. Thanks a lot, Matt, as always. I appreciate you.
Matt Dull: Thanks, Dave.