Campus Construction Update, August 6, 2021
On this week's Campus Construction Update, Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Matt Dull chats with University Communications' Dave Blanks about the newly opened Laurel Creek Residence Hall, as well as the construction progress on New River Residence Hall — scheduled to open in fall 2022 — and the demolition of Gardner and Coltrane halls, currently underway.
Dave Blanks: Hey, folks. What's up? This is Dave Blanks from University Communications back with a Campus Construction Update with my partner in crime, Mr. Matt Dull. Hey, Matt Dull.
Matt Dull: Hey, Dave. How are ya?
Dave Blanks: I'm excellent. I hope you are doing well today.
Matt Dull: Doing well. It's good to be back in the saddle over here, and starting the month of August.
Dave Blanks: Yes, indeed.
Matt Dull: Which is the month of students moving back to campus, which is exciting.
Dave Blanks: Right! Move-in day! Or not just day now, it's move-in ...
Matt Dull: Yeah I know! It's really almost like a week week. Yeah, we started that last year. We did four days of first-year student move-in and then a couple of days of continuing student move-in and transfer move-in. We're keeping that approach. We did it last year, really, to limit how many people were coming in each day. We were really thinking about COVID and not having as many people crammed in the elevator, all trying to move in at the same time compared to our kind of normal one-day move-in. We really liked it. It really helped ease traffic in Boone. It really helped ease the number of people that needed to park right in front of the building. It really kind of just cut down on a lot of the pressure of move-in day.
Dave Blanks: It was way less hectic.
Matt Dull: Yeah. Way less hectic. You almost didn't realize it was happening. So, we're keeping that model for, again, this year. We'll probably reevaluate that again for future years, but it's just gone so smooth and it really, again, cuts down on all the pressure on town and on campus. I think it's actually just a better experience for students and for parents. They can really feel like they can be in the spaces and not immediately have to like drop your student off, get them in the building, get out of the way, move your car because we need it for somebody else. We still have a little bit of that, but the pressure is just not quite as intense as our normal kind of one-day move-in. So, that's been really a positive for us. And I think we're going to stick with some version of that in the future. So, that is happening this year. The four-day move-in planned for Monday, Aug. 9, for first-year, students goes four days through Thursday and then we have continuing student and transfer student move-in through the weekend.
Dave Blanks: Right on! We will talk a little bit about transfer students and the residence hall that is just for transfer students now, which is kind of a relatively new thing that we haven't actually discussed here on the Campus Construction Update. But yeah, so the ninth through the 12th is move-in. If you want more information on move-in, you can go to housing.appstate.edu, and they have all the details there for fall 2021 move-in. Let's talk about Laurel Creek/Building 300.
Matt Dull: Yeah. Laurel Creek Hall. So exciting news for us this week. Last week, we received our certificate of occupancy, which basically means the building is safe to be occupied by people other than your construction workers. It is safe and ready for people to move in.
Dave Blanks: No hardhats needed anymore.
Matt Dull: No hardhats needed. No more high visibility, bright orange, bright yellow vests anymore, which is unfortunate because I love wearing that thing. You know?
Dave Blanks: Yeah, you look good in it right now! Never take it off.
Matt Dull: I come to the studio fully dressed and ready for the podcast.
Dave Blanks: I always have to ask you to take off your hat, you know, the hardhat because of the acoustics, it changes it. It vibrates and stuff. Just kidding. All right. So it's ready for ...
Matt Dull: Ready for kind of the general public to be in. So we got the certificate of occupancy last week from the town of Boone. Furniture really started moving in the building mid-July. All the furniture's in the building. Our student staff have moved into the building at this point. So, our RA staff our RD and coordinator that kind of operate and run the building, they are in the building. General students will begin moving in on the ninth. Yeah. So we're about a week or so away from kind of that general student move-in. And yeah, last week we had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the building, Friday, July the 30th. We are just excited to wrap up the second phase of the housing project with the opening of this building. Of course, you know, the green space that's in between Laurel Creek and Raven Rocks Hall, that's finished up.
Dave Blanks: I think you know what it's called. OK, Matt?
Matt Dull: Oh! You mean ... what was it? Dull Blanks?
Dave Blanks: When are they going to name it, though, for real? Surely it will have a name!
Matt Dull: So we're still working on getting that finalized here in the next week or so. So that area we'll be opening up. Our hammock stands, those permanent steel stands for people to put their hammocks on and slacklines. They're anchored enough to do that. So, that's exciting. That's all in place and ready to go for students. All of the parking that's kind of around that area, our ADA parking, as well as parking really that's going to line Stadium Heights Drive that moves kind of from Jack Branch down to the new parking deck, all the way to Trivette Circle. All of that's been redone. Trivette Circle is redone. It looks awesome. We have plenty of parking now that kind of surrounds Raven Rocks and Laurel Creek Hall. So, all of that's a part of this as well as all new sidewalks, all of the lighting ...
Dave Blanks: Yeah, it sounds cool. Yeah. I've got to get a look at that.
Matt Dull: Yeah. It's looking great. So, ready for students to move in next week. Excited to have students to move in and enjoy this new space on campus.
Dave Blanks: How about New River?
Matt Dull: Yeah, New River Hall, right across the street, is our last and third phase of the project. New River framing continues. We have moved up to the fifth floor with framing, and we are also starting to work on the sixth floor framing of the very front section of the building. When I'm referring to the front, really it is the Rivers Street side of the building. As soon as they finish framing a floor, our mechanical and electrical and plumbing, rough-ins will just kind of continue up into that floor. So that's starting at the bottom floor, working their way up. That's putting in, again, the rough drain lines, domestic water lines, conduit for power to each of the different units. That's also some of the mechanical work that needs to go in at this point. So all of that's kind of continuing, going up the building.
Dave Blanks: OK, so wait. So, I do know what electrical and plumbing is, but what's the mechanical part?
Matt Dull: A lot of mechanical is really more like heating and air conditioning.
Dave Blanks: Oh, yeah.
Matt Dull: It includes duct work that is needed for that.
Dave Blanks: I got ya. Anything else with New River right now?
Matt Dull: Yeah, New River is moving forward pretty quickly. We should have ... basically the building topped out in mid-August. So another couple of weeks and then really we'll begin installing the roof membrane at that time, really to keep water out of the building. It's that first step of drying in we'll need to do. As we're moving up and frame the building, we're getting that outside construction wrap installed.
Dave Blanks: It has some other name. Yeah. What is it?
Matt Dull: You know, Tyvek is one of the common names, Lowe's manufacturers a type of kind of private label brand.
Dave Blanks: I feel like people use the word Tyvek kind of like people use the word Xerox or Kleenex. It is a brand, but I know what you're talking about.
Matt Dull: Yeah, so that construction wrap is going to be on the outside of the building and you see that going on as they're moving up. That's part of that envelope of the building, if you will, to get it dried in. We'll then have to start putting in the window systems before it's really, truly dried in, but those activities are underway. And then we'll really kind of continue through probably the end of August. And then windows are kind of that next thing that really help dry us in as we go into the winter months.
Dave Blanks: Right on! What about Gardner/Coltrane?
Matt Dull: Yeah. Gardner/Coltrane, demolition continues on those two buildings. If you've looked at any pictures lately or if you've been in Boone lately, you can see basically the skin of the building, the outside of the buildings are gone. That is being hauled off as it's being pulled down, and they're working their way toward the center of the building, starting to remove steel and start having that building kind of collapse in on itself as they work they're way down.
Dave Blanks: Still, those I-beams still, some of them are still there ... sections of them.
Matt Dull: Yeah some of those I-beams are still there. They'll continue to kind of pinch those off, a little bit by little bit, and work your way down to kind of one big pile of debris at the end. Right now the schedule has most, if not all of that construction debris or that demolition debris removed by mid-September. So we're looking, you know, by that first home football game in September, most of that debris should be gone. And really we should have a site that clears the way for all the site work needed to get utilities and site lighting, all of that rough-in work done or started so that that can become a paved surface parking area in that footprint of where Gardner/Coltrane and the old Justice Lot — all that is going to be surface parking. Once kind of mid-September happens and the debris is removed, the focus will then be all of the kind of underground site work that needs to happen and be in place for when we turn that over to a parking lot. That will continue to be kind of a construction area and lay down area for materials through the fall semester, mostly through the spring semester. That parking lot will open up for use in fall of 2022, when New River Hall opens. So, that whole site will open up at the same time in fall of 2022.
Dave Blanks: Right on! So, we mentioned the transfer residence hall. So, it's not a new building.
Matt Dull: Yeah. Not a new building. We've had the APH, the Appalachian Panhellenic Hall, on campus for many years. We have changed kind of the use of that building this year. We're going to be using that as a transfer residential community. We'll have over 200 transfer students in the building this year. It will no longer be associated with sorority life on campus. We'll be using some of the common space in the building for our Office of Transfer Services. They'll be in the building some and have a presence in the building. We'll try to do more programming in the building around kind of what transfer students need to make their adjustment to life at Appalachian. Our transfer students come from a variety of higher ed institutions. Some come from the community college system, both in state and out of state. Some are coming from other four-year bachelor's degree-granting institutions. We're putting all of those students into one community over in Mountain Laurel Hall. That's the new kind of branded name moving from the Appalachian Panhellenic Hall to Mountain Laurel Hall. And that'll be where many of our transfer students who are living on campus will be living. We still have some other spaces on campus that transfers will be living in, but we are trying to create that intentional community for transfers to make that transition to Appalachian.
Dave Blanks: That's great. They're not required to stay there? It's not like it's their freshman year or anything.
Matt Dull: Right! It is optional for students to stay on campus, but many of our transfer students do want to stay on campus. It's ... a lot of times, especially if the transfer students are coming from the community college, it might be kind of their first time moving away from where they grew up and they want the on-campus experience. They didn't get that necessarily at their community college, and they really want to have an on-campus experience. They may want to be closer to campus and they can get or afford for off-campus housing. So it's a win-win, right? It helps introduce transfer students to our campus and to the resources available here, it helps them build community on campus and then it also provides affordable housing for students to be able to be on campus or maybe closer to where they would be if they were an off-campus student.
Dave Blanks: Sure. They're not out in the county. And that's at the intersection of the 105 extension and Blowing Rock Road there, 321.
Matt Dull: Yeah. That's correct. It is diagonally across from the two-story Wendy's, as people like to say up here.
Dave Blanks: Right! I say, "The world-famous double-decker Wendy's." I'm not sure if I am the only one who says that.
Matt Dull: I don't know, but they probably would like that.
Dave Blanks: I dig it! Well, Matt, anything else for today? We've covered a good bit.
Matt Dull: Yeah. You know, a couple of weeks ago we talked about our Career Development Center moving into the student union. We did a little update there and things are really wrapping up there. You know, our Career Development Center has been in two spaces, one space in John Thomas Hall, a smaller space in the student union, and we're combining that into one space on the second floor of the student union. So, we're at that phase, running through the final punch list. The punch list is created and working with the contractor on getting that completed. Our first round of furniture moves in next week into the space. Staff will then begin moving into that space in kind of mid-August, and we'll begin providing services to students in the new space as we begin the fall semester.
Dave Blanks: And we did use some of McAlister's dining room, but they're not sore about it, right?
Matt Dull: Yeah. We did use some of what was part of the McAlister's dining room, but we're also, as we kind of get things going in the spring semester, we're going to be having some new furniture out on that balcony in the Solarium that's going to be available for students as they pick up food at McAlister's. So it'll kind of extend McAlister's onto that balcony and kind of utilize that space when McAlister's is open as some additional dining space, or eat-in space for McAlister's. And then, of course, that will remain open for student study space or just student lounge space when McAlister's is not open.
Dave Blanks: We're looking forward to that change. That's going to be really positive for the student union. Well, Matt Dull, thanks so much. We'll do it again, sir!
Matt Dull: Absolutely. Thanks, Dave.