Campus Construction Update, July 27, 2020
Listen to this all-new Campus Construction Update, featuring Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Matt Dull and University Communications' Dave Blanks, to learn the latest construction updates on Appalachian's new residence halls — as well as how to get your hands on a piece of Justice Hall, currently being razed to make way for New River Hall.
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. How's it going?
Matt Dull: Hey, good. Thanks Dave.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, I'm glad you're here. Glad to have you. Glad to hear your voice once more.
Matt Dull: Good to be back.
Dave Blanks: On today's Campus Construction Update. I think we're going to cover some Thunder Hill updates. Is that right?
Matt Dull: Yeah, that's right. Thunder Hill and Raven Rocks.
Dave Blanks: Raven Rocks, Thunder Hill and also maybe mention a little something about Justice, which has changed quite a bit recently. But let's start with Thunder Hill today, if that's OK with you.
Matt Dull: That sounds great. So the units, you know, the student units are substantially complete. Finishes are done. And ...
Dave Blanks: Wait, you didn't say student union, did you? The student units. OK. All right.
Matt Dull: The student union is done, too.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, that one's finished as well. Put a check beside that one.
Matt Dull: But the finishes within the student units are substantially complete — all of the carpet and ...
Dave Blanks: The terrazzo, dude.
Matt Dull: The terrazzo that we talked about last week is finishing up installation. LVT is in. That's that luxury vinyl tile. It's that kind of wood looking vinyl planks. You see a lot of places on campus right now. So, it's totally finished — the carpet and the LVT. The dumpsters and compactors — always exciting to talk about dumpsters and compactors — those were installed last week. So, students will now actually have a place to take out the trash.
Dave Blanks: Necessary, right?
Matt Dull: Necessary, necessary for opening a new building.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, and they're integrated, which is different than when we were in school.
Matt Dull: Yeah. So yeah, it's all one integrated, kind of compact or dumpster unit students can go and put their trash in, and then it compacts it and then it can haul off like a 25-yard, like a long, kind of almost like construction-sized dumpster from the building. That allows us to do less pickups every week, which hopefully means it'll be quieter for residents. They're having to listen to the dumpster being emptied outside their bedroom window every morning.
Dave Blanks: They won't have to suffer like we did. Right?
Matt Dull: That's right.
Dave Blanks: What else, Matt?
Matt Dull: Let's see. We've got installation and testing of security cameras, wireless access points, emergency blue light phones — all of that's happening. We're continuing to wrap up installation of the equipment in the steam room that we're using for hot water in the building and heating of common spaces. So that's finishing up here this week. So, just really the last little finishing touches on some of the main building finishes and building systems are happening in Thunder Hill.
Dave Blanks: Sounds good. Sounds really good. What about Raven Rocks?
Matt Dull: Yeah, Raven Rocks is essentially complete. You know, we're still ... really for both buildings, they're in this phase of continuing to commission the different building systems. S,o kind of tweaking and making adjustments to each of the building systems to get them ready for their final inspection and for occupancy. So, like our HVAC system, the heating and air system, the elevators, the fire alarms, the data that students are going to want, you know, day one when they come in, they want their Wi-Fi to work.
Dave Blanks: Certainly.
Matt Dull: Steam and all the other kind of utilities and systems in the building. So we're in the process of commissioning each one of those items right now. We've got inspections coming up. So, we've got a final electrical inspection, fire and life safety inspections, elevator inspections, the Office of State Construction will perform an inspection — lots of little inspections that remain over the next two weeks or so before students will be moving in on August the eighth.
Dave Blanks: So, so soon, man. Wow.
Matt Dull: It is soon. It's hard to believe, you know, when you think back about even starting the podcast and we were just kinda moving dirt around and building a foundation.
Dave Blanks: We were so young, you know?
Matt Dull: We were so young.
Dave Blanks: Just tripping along happy as a couple of larks, just talking it up about concrete, masonry units and ...
Matt Dull: Aggregate piers.
Dave Blanks: Aggregate piers! Golly! It was a different time.
Matt Dull: It was a different world.
Dave Blanks: Well, so you had mentioned something about the inspections on Raven Rocks being a little bit different than the inspections on the other buildings.
Matt Dull: Yeah, they are a little bit different. So, Raven Rocks Hall is a building that will be owned by the university. So, this is a public–private partnership project, and Raven Rocks is a little bit different from the rest of the buildings. Raven Rocks will be immediately owned by the university. So, the Office of State Construction actually is the authority on that building. They've helped us along the way with design reviews and making sure everything's meeting the appropriate building codes. They also do the final inspections, the final electrical inspection and final inspection of the entire building. So, State Construction is really kind of the final signoff on Raven Rocks Hall. For the other buildings, that final signoff is the town of Boone. Because they will be owned by a nonprofit, private entity, they're treated like pretty much any other construction in the town of Boone. So, town of Boone will be the final inspection for electrical and all the other systems in the building and making sure that the plans and specs the architect developed for this building are carried out. And town of Boone will also do a zoning inspection. So, they're looking to make sure that ... you know, we had to do a zoning permit for the buildings. That's really where they're looking at the tree plantings and the outside of the building and making sure it kind of matches the design standards or requirements for the town of Boone. Town of Boone will also do an inspection to kind of compare what we submitted in our initial zoning package back in, I think it was 2018, to what it finally looked like when we were getting ready to occupy the buildings so ...
Dave Blanks: They're just kind of like hold the picture up, and then they're gonna pull it down a little and, "Is that? ... hmmm ..."
Matt Dull: That's right. Take the glasses on and off to be able to inspect and make sure ... No, but I mean, that's really important. You know, we've got design standards as a campus as well that help us, ya know, when we build new buildings, the design standards help set up everything from the systems that are in the building and what they should look like and how they should perform, to things like the color of the roof or the windows or what benches you should buy or lamp posts or light fixtures or, you know, toilet fixtures. So, all those kind of things, we have actual campus standards for, and the town of Boone does as well, in terms of in their zoning, they have certain requirements of how a building should really look. And so, we have to kind of work and have worked for the past few years on trying to, you know, find the right mix of what's going to be required by town of Boone, and then how does that fit with the aesthetic of Appalachian's campus.
Dave Blanks: Well, I hope we're keeping everybody happy.
Matt Dull: I think we're keeping everybody happy. I hope we're keeping everyone happy.
Dave Blanks: Yeah.
Matt Dull: It's been a great partnership and town of Boone have been very helpful in helping us really help meet their needs and what they want, this kind of zone or area to look like on campus and how it interfaces with the rest of the look of Boone. They've been super helpful to work with, and I can't speak highly enough about the staff with the town of Boone and their willingness to provide advice and then to be able to kind of help us get a final product that all parties can be really excited about finishing up.
Dave Blanks: Well, that's lucky. Boone's a great place. It's nice.
Matt Dull: It is.
Dave Blanks: Do you want to talk Justice now?
Matt Dull: Yeah, let's jump into Justice.
Dave Blanks: All right. So yeah, it's changed considerably,
Matt Dull: Slightly breezier inside the building.
Dave Blanks: A little more light getting in there; a little more natural light.
Matt Dull: More natural light. And that's right.
Dave Blanks: The open floor plan.
Matt Dull: It is the illustrious open floor plan that I think everyone's looking for.
Dave Blanks: Yeah. So, when did demolition start on Justice?
Matt Dull: So, demolition, actual demolition ... So, it's really a ...
Dave Blanks: Is that the word I should use, demolition?
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, we're demolishing it.
Matt Dull: It's kind of multipart. I think we think of demolition, you know, whether you implode a building or, you know, you knock it down, but there are a lot of different steps that go before the first brick is taken off the outside of a building, of evaluating all the materials that are inside of the building and determining which ones might be hazardous when you were remove. You know, and all buildings that we have, even our homes, there are hazardous materials that might potentially be there. We go through a process of identifying what those hazards might be and trying to abate or mitigate those hazards before we actually go in and start doing large-scale demolition. So, that started, right as soon as students really kind of did the final move-out in late May. We've spent the majority of June doing kind of that abatement and mitigation of hazardous materials. And then, I guess it's been about two weeks or so, started that mechanical demolition of the building. So that's where, what people really think of a demolition of, you know, when you start getting all the equipment in there, all of the excavator kind of equipment getting in there and tearing down walls and separating out the brick and the steel and the metals. What most people think about as demolition has really started in earnest about two weeks ago.
Dave Blanks: How long until all of the old building is removed and what remains is just a slab? Is that accurate? Is there just going to be the slab left? Are we removing the slab and it's just going to be earth?
Matt Dull: We're really removing everything. We are taking up all the utilities and then are kind of backing out all the utilities that we don't need for Building 400, or New River Hall, and really getting it to a gravel kind of landing area, or starting point for New River Hall.
Dave Blanks: OK. So how long until it becomes the thing and that kind of ...
Matt Dull: ... silt fencing and stuff like that you need just to keep runoff and that kind of thing from getting into the waters around the site.
Dave Blanks: Right.
Matt Dull: You know, we can expect to see, you know, kind of that October time frame. Really, the site's kind of finished up, we've got gravel down. We've really got the site ready to go for construction for New River Hall.
Dave Blanks: All right. Hey, I did actually have a question about Justice. A friend of mine said, "Well, why aren't they, like, selling the bricks for Justice? You know, like as keepsakes for people." So, are we doing that?
Matt Dull: We're not actually selling the bricks. We're not going to be selling them. We will have some bricks available for people that need them or want them.
Dave Blanks: OK.
Matt Dull: We're getting a few pallets of bricks. They're not going to be perfect, pristine, kind of cleaned off bricks. We're not asking the contractor to do that. So, we'll still have mortar and all that kinda fun stuff on them.
Dave Blanks: We've done that in the past, right?
Matt Dull: Yeah. We've done that in the past. Winkler Hall was our most recent example of a demolition where, you know, we did have some bricks available. We had a number of people that asked, "Hey, I lived in Winkler Hall and I'd like a brick." You know, and one of the reasons why we didn't do a big fundraiser or kind of a big campaign to kind of get your brick is, you know, when we've done some of that in the past and say "Hey, we have bricks available," there's a number of people that do sign up for a brick. But then, when it's time to pick it up or mail it to them, they're not as interested in making a trip to Boone for a brick.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, or not as keen on paying the postage for a brick.
Matt Dull: That's right. So, we will have some bricks available. I don't have any information, specifically, today on it. We can have that in our next podcast on how to make a request for a brick, if you'd like one.
Dave Blanks: Great! Just wait for that. And please don't help yourself to the site right now because it's an active construction zone, demolition zone.
Matt Dull: It is fenced off. And we do ask folks not to go on the site to get their own, kind of, memento or souvenir from the site. We are happy to try to help facilitate that, but please work with us rather than going there on your own to just pick up your own memento.
Dave Blanks: Play it safe! Hang tight.
Matt Dull: That's right. Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Well, Matt, if there's nothing else for today. You got any other updates?
Matt Dull: No, I think that's it.
Dave Blanks: All right.
Matt Dull: Lots going on. Just a couple of weeks left before we start having students move in to Raven Rocks and Thunder Hill.
Both: Exciting times.
Dave Blanks: Jinx! Hey, thanks for your time. I appreciate you.
Matt Dull: Absolutely, good to talk to you, Dave. Thanks.