Campus Construction Update, July 6, 2021
Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Matt Dull chats with University Communications' Dave Blanks about the construction progress for App State's newest residence halls as well as the new home of the Career Development Center.
Dave Blanks: Hey folks, this is Dave Blanks from University Communications back once again with a campus construction update. Happy to be talking into my in studio microphone, to a guest who is in studio with me, although through a glass wall because I'm in the control room. He's in the talent area because he's the super-talented Mr. Matt Dull. Hello, Matt Dull.
Matt Dull: Hey, Dave. How are you? Good to be back in the studio.
Dave Blanks: Man, it's good to see you in ...
Matt Dull: In the flesh! .
Dave Blanks: In the flesh, which is a creepy saying, but in living color — however you want to say it. It's great to see you.
Matt Dull: Good to see you. Good to be back.
Dave Blanks: We've got a pretty cool episode today I think, because we're branching out slightly. We will get our residence hall updates, don't you worry, dedicated listeners. But also we're going to cover the Career Development Center.
Matt Dull: We're going to cover a little bit about the career development center. Big changes there.
Dave Blanks: You want to start out with some of the residence halls?
Matt Dull: Let's start with the residence halls. Maybe we could start at Laurel Creek Hall.
Dave Blanks: Let's do it.
Matt Dull: Talked the past couple of weeks. Really the exterior of the buildings looking really great. Masonry's done, all the rock work is done on the exterior of the building, doing little bits and pieces of cleaning and that kind of stuff to the brick. Most of the building itself is really wrapped up. They're setting brick pavers. They're laying elk stone on the site walls.
Dave Blanks: How many elks does it take to make one of those stones? .
Matt Dull: I mean, they're hard at work out in the national forest.
Dave Blanks: Harvesting elk stones. Sustainable elk stone. Well, that's cool.
Matt Dull: I don't even know why it's called elk stone. It's a great, great question.
Dave Blanks: It's a cool name.
Matt Dull: It is a cool name.
Dave Blanks: I dig it.
Matt Dull: It's that kind of weird grayish bluish, light tint of blue kind of color.
Dave Blanks: We use it in other buildings.
Matt Dull: Yeah, you see it all over campus. As you walk around campus, you'll see them on site walls or kind of our bottom floor of buildings. We use it a lot. Landscaping's really starting. Just starting to plant the plants and shrubs that are around the perimeter of the building. Those are getting ready to go in this week.
Dave Blanks: That's exciting.
Matt Dull: Yeah. I mean, these are all those nice little finishing touches that really start to make it look like it's ready to move into and it's not just a mud pit out front. It's now really, really taken shape. Landscaping's going in. We talked about Trivette Circle.
Dave Blanks: Right, the leveling.
Matt Dull: The leveling of Trivette Circle a little bit. Changing just kind of its pitch a little bit or grade a little bit. It was a little more level than what it was, had more accessible parking spaces in that area. Grading work is done. They've now put the binder coat or kind of that first initial base coat of asphalt on that area. This week they'll be working on kind of the top layer coat and really just kind of paving their way out from Trivette Circle all the way back over to Stadium Heights Drive. This is kind of that final push through the site of getting all of the roadways finished up. All that's getting ready to be repaved and kind of get its final surface as we basically finish all of the really heavy equipment that needs to be on site. And that really allows you to get a really nice asphalt coat that you're not going to be worried about tearing up when you're bringing through heavy equipment. A lot of progress there.
Dave Blanks: Hey, listen, we're talking a lot about asphalt over on that side, but we did mention some of the green space too.
Matt Dull: We've talked about this for years, kind of this idea that we're moving the green space that was Duck Pond Field into a green space that's really in the courtyard of Raven Rocks Hall, that's Building 200, and Laurel Creek Hall, which is building 300. There's a large green space in there about the same size as Duck Pond Field. I think one of the biggest advantages is you're actually going to have better drainage because it's purpose-built. You're going in and you're putting in the yard inlets and other kinds of drains to really pull water out of there. Duck Pond Field was kind of in a bowl, so every time it rained, every time it snowed and melted, it just was like a mud pit down there. It's really more crowned so you have water, that's going to pour off of it instead of just sit. It's got much better drainage than what we had over at Duck Pond. Excited to have that green space opened up.
Matt Dull: On one of the corners of Laurel Creek, there's a little area that's going to be set aside. They'll have some poles that people can tie hammocks to — their Enos or whatever hammocks they're bringing with them. That'll be an exciting addition to that green space there as well.
Dave Blanks: We don't have another one of those on campus. We just have older trees.
Matt Dull: Yeah. This will be the first one on campus. I'm really interested to see how students use it. And that helps us kind of get a better idea of, do we want to do this in other places on campus? Particularly around residence halls, where you have a lot of residential students just to give more programmed space outside of their hall. We'll kind of see how it's used and this will really help inform how do we want to activate maybe some other green spaces around residence halls on campus.
Dave Blanks: That does bring up an interesting point because Duck Pond Field was called Duck Pond Field. But this new space really doesn't have any kind of identity yet as far as the name goes.
Matt Dull: No, not yet.
Dave Blanks: I'm putting you on the spot for that.
Matt Dull: No name yet. Still working on that piece.
Dave Blanks: Dull Blanks. They're going to call it Dull Blanks.
Matt Dull: Well, even if they don't call it that, we can call it that.
Dave Blanks: We'll refer to it as such. It'll catch on.
Matt Dull: Oh, I'm sure. I'm sure.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, but the good drainage in Dull Blanks is going to make it hard for people to play...apparently ooze ball was a thing that people played on Duck Pond Field, and man, it looks real messy. They are just in the mud playing volleyball. There was a cool TBT throwback Thursday picture we did on Facebook of all these early nineties kids just throwing down on some ooze ball.
Matt Dull: I never played ooze ball, but I remember when I was at Appalachian as a student and was in the ambassador program that they talked about their ooze ball team and it was the thing that people did just literally a few years or whatever, before I jumped in or joined ambassadors.
Dave Blanks: Which was slightly after 1991.
Matt Dull: Which was slightly after 1991. I'm sure we'll have people comment on ooze ball.
Dave Blanks: We can't play ooze ball out here. What the heck? Well, I think it is an improvement on the drainage. Where else do you want to go today, Mr. Dull?
Matt Dull: Well, thinking about the inside of Laurel Creek. We talked a lot about the outside, but inside things are really finishing up. We're in the process this week and next week and just making sure all the things that we had on our punch list was appropriately resolved. And basically the rooms are ready for students to move into. Things are looking great for a student move in early August.
Matt Dull: IT equipment is being installed in the building, so all of your network switches, all the stuff that's in the IT closets that no one ever really sees the backbone to it all. The Wifi routers, those are getting installed. And also, we've got thermostats in each of the rooms controlling the HVAC in each room, but they're all actually connected through a mesh network so that basically they're their own little Wifi repeater and it just connects all the rooms together. That system is getting connected and configured.
Dave Blanks: That's what the HVAC system is?
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: It's on a mesh network? Wow!
Matt Dull: It's on a mesh network, yeah.
Dave Blanks: So high tech.
Matt Dull: Yeah, like your ZigBee or Z-Wave or one of those kind of networks you might have for home.
Dave Blanks: I remember just waking up in the mornings and just starting the fire in the dorm room. We'd split the wood. Remember Matt, remember how it was?
Matt Dull: Oh yeah.
Dave Blanks: Go milk the cow. All right where else?
Matt Dull: Actually, it was more like turning the knob on the radiator.
Dave Blanks: Right, and that thing heated up.
Matt Dull: Either between freezing or just absolutely burning up.
Dave Blanks: Those radiators. Yeah, there wasn't any fine tuning on that.
Matt Dull: Just really getting the buildings ready for students to move in in about a month or so. Cleaning, a lot of maintenance staff now getting ready to go through the buildings, doing things like hanging shower curtains, and just really doing that final touch to make sure everything's really ready for students to move in. Last little bit of vacuuming and sweeping and mopping and that kind of stuff too. That'll continue really through the month of July, but really that's happening here in the next couple of weeks.
Dave Blanks: Sweet. Well you want to head across the road?
Matt Dull: Yeah, let's head across to New River Hall. Framing continues in New River Hall. Three levels are complete. We're now framing the fourth level of the building, which is exciting to get that going. As the floor gets finished up, our plumbers, our HVAC folks, our electricians, they're going in. They're actually doing the rough-in in the rooms. That is moving forward again, as we're moving up. Exciting to see so much progress on the building. A long way to go. We're a year out from people moving in. Just about 13 months away. There's still a lot to do, but on schedule and things are looking good. We just need to continue to have some good weather to allow things to keep moving on the site.
Dave Blanks: Fantastic. Sounds good.
Matt Dull: Looking over across the street at Gardner Coltrane or really across the parking lot, Gardner Coltrane, it's been emptied of all its surplus items.
Dave Blanks: All the windows are gone.
Matt Dull: All the windows are gone, the abatement's continuing. Really, the demolition of the structure will begin here really in the next month or two. You'll see little parts of the structure start coming down and then mechanical demolition on the towers will be after that.
Dave Blanks: Nice. Well, hey, do you want to head to the Plemmons Student Union for a minute?
Matt Dull: Yeah. Let's go on over to the Plemmons Student Union.
Dave Blanks: Give us an update on the Career Development Center.
Matt Dull: Big changes. Career Development Center is currently located really in two spots. We had part of the Career Development Center in the JET Building, the John Thomas Building, we had a small, what we call our peer Career Center or our Career Exploration Center — it's been both names over the years. That was a smaller space over in the student union to work with students usually early in their career progression. We had them over in the student union.
Matt Dull: We're actually combining all of that space into a space in the student union. We'll be moving everything over from John Thomas Building, all of our career counselors, our student employment office. We'll have a place to be able to do our resume workshops. We've got interview rooms for both in-person interviews and we're also getting them set up to where they're almost like little Zoom rooms where students could do Zoom interviews or other kind of online interviews with employers.
Dave Blanks: And they won't get attacked by their cat.
Matt Dull: Exactly. Exactly. Or the roommate walking in the background or whatever.
Dave Blanks: Or the roommate. Cooking the Hot Pocket.
Matt Dull: That's moving forward. We've gained a lot of progress since the last time we talked about it. That space is really kind of connected to where we added onto the front of the original Plemmons Student Union, the 1968 building. Back in the mid-2000s we added on the Solarium to the front of the building. And there is one little area of that Solarium on the second floor that we've kind of moved into this new career development space. The Whitewater Lounge Area is now part of this career development space. And then it goes all the way back to McAlister's.
Dave Blanks: And it was utilized. It never had a strong identity as like, "Okay, let's go hang out at Whitewater." But I mean, I remember seeing some emo bands there back in the day. But I mean, some people did use it, but this makes a lot of sense to me.
Matt Dull: Yeah, I think it's going to be a lot more use usability. It also puts career services kind of front and center in students' minds.
Dave Blanks: Right there, yes.
Matt Dull: And it's not across the street on the third floor of an administration kind of building. It's right there in the heart of the student union.
Dave Blanks: Way more foot traffic.
Matt Dull: Way more foot traffic, we're hoping. Space is looking great. We're actually getting ready to start punch lists next week on the space.
Dave Blanks: So far through the project. That's nuts.
Matt Dull: Very far through the project. It looks great. We'll try to get updated pictures. I think Marie was actually over there last week, taking some pictures of the space.
Dave Blanks: Hey, cool.
Matt Dull: I think we'll get some updated pictures on the site.
Dave Blanks: Maybe we'll use that as the picture that we use for this particular episode. That would be cool.
Matt Dull: The space is looking great. And then the last piece of this we'll do punch lists, have a little bit of touch up that needs to happen. And then we'll be getting furniture in the space late July, early August. And then our goal is to have the space really up and available for students as we start the fall semester.
Dave Blanks: Fantastic. Matt, we went so many places.
Matt Dull: We did. All over. I'm tired from all the walking.
Dave Blanks: You got to get out of here. You got a meeting, right?
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Well, thanks for your time. We'll do it again. I appreciate you.
Matt Dull: Absolutely. Thanks Dave.