Campus Construction Updates

Dave Blanks welcomes a variety of guests to discuss ongoing and future construction at App State.

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Saturday Jun 15, 2024

App State Director of Planning, Design and Construction Jeff Pierce and University Interior Designer Jacki McGuire join University Communications' Dave Blanks in studio to discuss a number of ongoing campus construction and renovation projects at App State, including renovations to Edwin Duncan Hall and the University Post Office.
Dave BlanksHey, folks, this is Dave Blanks from University Communications back with a Campus Construction Update. And I'm really happy to have Mr. Jeff Pierce and Jacki McGuire in the house. Hey, Jeff and Jacki how are y'all?
Jeff Pierce Hey, Dave, it's good to be back with you.
Jacki McGuire Hey Dave.
Dave BlanksI know y'all are good because you've been talking, like, nonstop since you came in here, so...
Jeff Pierce It's always a good time with you, Dave and on podcasts.
Dave BlanksI mean, you know, It is fun, and I'm glad that you're down here. And, that's the kind of energy we want, you know, for a podcast. Because if you're not talking, podcasts are pretty dull.
Jeff Pierce Go figure.
Dave BlanksYeah, I know! Weird right? So Jeff Pierce, the director of planning, design and construction, and Jacki McGuire, the university's interior designer. Great to have you both. And on the, podcast today, we're going to talk about, a few different things, an overview of some of the bigger projects that are going on, here in Boone, also in Hickory, also going to discuss the post office, which is getting a big change. It looks great in there. It looks really cool. I've seen some artist renderings, some mock ups. And then we're going to get specific on Edwin Duncan. But first off, Jeff, if you don't mind starting with, kind of a broad overview, get up, get up high for, for a view of the of the school and what we're doing.
Jeff Pierce Will do! We're doing $300 million worth of construction between the main campus here at Boone and the Hickory campus, the innovation campus, which is the old Broyhill Inn site, we're doing faculty housing units up there through a public private partnership, as well as a district energy system, which we're putting in geothermal wells. We're putting in solar and putting in two additional wind turbines as well, to provide that hilltop up there with energy. As we move down the hill, we're doing construction work at Wey Hall. It’s a full renovation of Wey Hall which is the arts building. We come across the street there at Edwin Duncan. We'll talk about more of that later. We'll go down the street. We're doing some minor projects. Katherine Harper Kerr Scott, as we're moving the people out of Wey Hall, we're moving some of them into there as well, over into the Octagon and East Hall and then down in Hickory, we're doing a, renovation on the second floor, renovating the second floor. We're putting in a cyber lab, initially a kind of a general studies lab for like, chemistry, general sciences and then there's just a standard computer lab as well.
Dave BlanksOkay. Computer lab, cybersecurity lab. And then to general instruction. Okay.
Jeff Pierce And then we'll renovate the other floor with other labs over the next 1 to 2 years down there as well. And then once we're done with that one, we'll move to the third, fourth and then fifth floor.
Dave BlanksTotal of five floors.
Jeff Pierce Correct. We got about $40 million that we've got right now, that we're planning out. And we'll take it as far as we go in this dynamic time of, inflation and construction these days..
Dave BlanksWell, everything when we started the Campus Construction Update, it was before Covid, and then we went through Covid and access to materials and inflation and all these other factors like, came in and became such huge players. And it's still...
Jeff Pierce It still is. It’s not as dramatic as it and it kind of pops around from roofs at the beginning and during the pandemic was hard to get long lead items. Dozer came back in line. But there will be different things like HVAC systems.
Dave BlanksRight.
Jeff Pierce That are hard to get long lead items, generators and stuff. And pricing hasn't really came down that much. What has happened is we have adjusted our estimation to account for it to be more conservative, to account for that.
Dave BlanksI'm not sure they want to come down on the price to be totally honest.
Jeff Pierce No. They don't and it never does. It's amazing. Once you get a rise it will drop down a little bit and then it will level off but it will never go back to where it was before.
Dave BlanksSad but true.
Jeff Pierce It’s the nature of the business.
Dave BlanksAnything else broad overview you want to you want to mention before we get into, the post office?
Jeff Pierce No, we'll go ahead and dive into that.
Dave BlanksSounds good. Jacki, tell us what's happening with the post office. So let's start that way.
Jacki McGuire So the post office, we're doing a complete renovation of all of the public facing areas. So a new passport office, new counter for picking up packages and buying stamps, things like that, and then a new locker system that's really exciting. It's going to allow students and faculty and staff to pick up packages outside of business hours for the post office.
Dave BlanksThat is not something that's currently happening.
Jacki McGuire No. Right now with packages, you do have to go to the counter when they're open. Which is super inconvenient for some students if they're busy or faculty that are busy all day. So we're really excited to be able to expand the offerings for the post office. So this is my first capital project that I'm the project manager for. So since it's an interior renovation, we felt like this was a good fit as the university interior designer. So we're working with a design team called Studio Archibene. This our first project with them on this campus, so we're really excited to have a new architecture team. They've come up with some really fun ideas that really feel branded for App State and we’ve got some cool, unique features that we're going to have in there.
Dave BlanksSome very different stuff. Yeah, no offense to the post office right now, not the most fun place in the world. I love the people that work there. They're fantastic. But yeah, the, the mock ups that I've seen look so cool. Especially the passport office as you, as you mentioned, isn't there going to be, like, a map on the wall or something?
Dave BlanksOr you're thinking about it?
Jacki McGuire We're going to add it, I think, after the project we've been talking about what that might look like. We want to do a world map. So as people are coming to renew their passports, they can kind of put a little note of where our App family has been around the world. So that would be so cool. I think it's going to be super fun. This is going to bring the passport office out so that the entrance is coming from the lobby and there will be a true waiting area. So I think that's going to be a really nice addition and just kind of remind people that service exists. There also be some new furniture and a really cool block A installation that's going to be built by our carpentry shop. So we're very excited to be able to include them in something cool that will be a focal point for years to come.
Dave BlanksYeah, that's going to be fun. Currently the passport office, you can get your picture taken there, but you have to go like back around to where the employees are working. Not not really. Wasn't designed with that in mind I don’t think.
Jacki McGuire Yes. So I got to say the first time I went to that part of the post office, I was getting my passport and I felt so out of place. I was a brand new employee and I was like, this is not where I'm supposed to be, right now.
Dave BlanksIt feels like, yeah, it feels like employees only area. That's going to be great. So how long is that going to take? Do you all know is it started in earnest? It has now.
Jacki McGuire Yes. So, we have completed demo and they are in the process of putting up walls. So it's starting to really take shape. It's going to be ready at the end of the summer. Just in time for students come back. So it is a very short timeline, which is tough to do. But we wanted to make sure we were disrupting the services the post office provides as little as possible and making it easier for students when they come back. So all of this will make it a better environment for everybody involved.
Jeff Pierce Most people don't realize that we have a very short window to get our construction done, especially in an occupied building. So, usually our summer is our longest duration when we have, you know, less population on campus. And you figure it's only about three months and that's our longest time span. Then we try to hit, you know, critical outages during fall and spring break and then during a holiday break as well. But those are short durations. That's our biggest obstacle alot of the time is trying to find times to get the work done that have the least impact on our students and faculty.
Dave BlanksAre you all starting with most of the things you need? You know what I mean? You’re not waiting on, those how did you phrase it?
Jeff Pierce Long lead items. So yeah, that's another one of our obstacles. And so like for Jacki, she can expand more on it. But just like the locker system. We knew that was a long lead item. We pulled that one out and we purchased that outside of the contract so we could go ahead and get that purchase and have it ready to meet that timeline.
Dave BlanksIs it sitting somewhere right now on our campus?
Jacki McGuire No. Not yet. That is why. So, we had to order that as equipment outside of the project because it was, I think, I want to say, a three month lead time in itself. And since we only have three months to complete the project, we needed to get it ready. So, we expect those coming towards the end of July. They'll come in, get delivered and just slide right into place. So the contractor is basically going to build a little box out, and those lockers will slide in once they arrive.
Jeff Pierce So we have a lot of risk in our project. So we we have to plan a lot of times and go ahead and start construction with the hope. And I use that sparingly. But the hope that everything matches up perfectly at the end and comes together and you know, it doesn't impact the faculty and staff and students here.
Dave BlanksThat's the anticipation.
Jeff Pierce It is! You know, it's like the Heinz ketchup anticipation.
Dave BlanksYou’re waiting for it! Yeah! Well, so okay, how is it going to change with the old boxes like, I mean as far as, like what's happening with them. Are people still getting their mail and they can go check it like the way they used to. It's just that now a package can fit into it. Right?
Jacki McGuire Kind of. So one thing will be that you won't get assigned a specific P.O. box the way you used to. What will happen is you'll get an email that says you've received a package. You'll take your phone, your app card or whatever to the post office, and you can log in, swipe or scan a QR code at a kiosk, and that will pop open the locker where your product is, and you'll be able to pick that up whether it's mail, there's some smaller lockers for traditional mail or larger lockers for a package. So it'll allow the postal workers to utilize different lockers based on what's actually coming in that day.
Dave BlanksOh, that's gonna make it way easier for them to distribute that stuff.
Jacki McGuire They're super excited. And then things will only stay in the lockers for 24 hours. Then it'll get pulled out and you will have to go to the counter to pick them up at that point. But it also allows them to kind of keep track of things, because currently what happens is a lot of students get mail at the beginning of the semester and it just sits in their mailbox all year because they don't check it. So this is a better way to notify students and help make sure that the mail gets picked up and we don't have grandma's check sitting in the mailbox for a year.
Dave BlanksYes. Well, we don't want to miss out on that.
Jacki McGuire Right?!
Dave BlanksYeah. So what's the total cost? What are the numbers on that renovation?
Jacki McGuire So the post office is a $1.2 million budget. That includes the design services, the purchasing of the lockers, and the overall construction. Our biggest thing is on time and on budget. That's what planning, design and construction does.
Dave BlanksJeff, did she say that correctly?
Jeff PierceShe did! That was perfect.
Dave BlanksOkay. Excellent. If we're done with post office, why don't we move on to Edwin Duncan? So yeah, you can see driving past it. It's in a state now.
Jeff Pierce A state of openness.
Dave BlanksYeah, it’s wide open. the octagon area of it where I used to park. No longer an option for me. And y'all didn't run that past me before. You just.
Jeff Pierce I'm sorry. We we took away your covered, parking area, but however, let me put a plug in our $21.7 million parking deck will be open up. New 600 spots, down beside Holmes Convocation at the end of July.
Dave BlanksIt does look. It looks nice. That thing looks nice. Yeah. Lots of changes to Edwin Duncan. So, where are we on that, Jeff?
Jeff Pierce So right now we are in the middle of getting the final contract awarded. It's been awarded to Vannoy Construction. They've already started. We had a couple early packages that was awarded, which is demolition. That's what you're seeing going on right now. So they've demolished, gone in and opened up, taken out the windows on all three floors. We got all the hazardous material out. There was asbestos in that building. And any time we go in, do a renovation, we go in and we remove all the hazardous material and we go back in with clean material that is not a hazard to anybody in the future. So we've gone through and done that. The building's roughly about 90,000ft² between the three floors. We've got about 26 million to do that renovation. The octagon. We're not going to we're doing some temporary construction there to move some of the art students in like ceramics and stuff like that, though. So that’s in there for a year, because.
Dave BlanksWey is still...
Jeff Pierce Wey is under full construction there.
Dave BlanksRight.
Jeff Pierce So we’ve had to find some extra space to be, very, studious about finding open space to put, these departments into because we're out of swing space.
Dave BlanksAnd if this is the first, campus construction podcast you're listening to, then listen to the previous one if you're interested in hearing about Wey and because, Mike McKenzie and Nick Katers came in and were so kind as to give us a lot of information about that.
Jeff Pierce Yeah. So Edwin Duncan will be totally the college of Fine and Applied Arts. And so you'll have, some labs, you'll have some teaching spaces all on the first floor. You come up to the second floor it’s more the admin is where the dean suite will be at some more teaching spaces, larger classrooms. And then the third floor will be where the faculty will be at.
Jeff Pierce You know, our construction up here, these buildings were built in the 1960s.
Dave BlanksOkay. Edwin Duncan was the 60s.
Jeff Pierce Yes. Yeah. 1960s building...Wey... And so these are 1960s buildings. So we're just going there and gutting them and bringing in all completely new HVAC systems and Electrical systems. Wey was never sprinklered. So we're putting a new sprinkler system in there. Same way with the Edwin Duncan.
Dave BlanksSo Jackie, what have you been doing with Edwin Duncan? I mean, I guess here you haven’t been able to get in there and put anything in there yet.
Jacki McGuire No, but we have started conversations. We're really trying to think about the interior design of Edwin Duncan and Wey Hall together, as two big buildings that are part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts. So, we're looking at how we can use finishes that are similar across both buildings, make them feel like they're part of that same college, and give that college an identity that it hasn't really had in the past.
Jeff Pierce And what we're going to do there is we'll take these design standards or these guidelines. And so, like Jacki will put together an interior package that we’ll be able to go back to future renovations and say, all right, here's what we use. And so it should make the process a lot easier for our faculty and staff as we move forward as we go through the design process.
Dave BlanksGotcha. Jacki, what's something you're excited about that we haven't done? Can you share anything specific?
Jacki McGuire Well, for me, one exciting thing that we've only started talking about in our office is developing some campus standards for interior design. So, currently we have campus standards for a lot of the things that are shops do in their specialties with, you know, electrical, HVAC all those types of things. But we don't have a lot of interior design standards. And if anybody's been to surplus, you'll see that our warehouse is super full of mismatched, old, outdated items that people just don't want.
Dave BlanksSounds cool. I want to get a surplus.
Jacki McGuire So, we're trying to be really thoughtful about when we do buy new furniture. What does that look like? So that we can have things across campus that all feel cohesive. People will be more likely to keep them longer and be able to repurpose them in new places, because everything feels kind of connected. So I'm really excited to kind of improve our App State branding in a way that you feel like you're here without having it pushed in your face. Right. and we just really want to create a great, fun space. I taught last semester, and I had some students tell me they had friends who had really cool spaces on their campuses that they saw on social media.
Dave BlanksJelly.
Jacki McGuire I mean, I was so I'm really trying to, you know, we have cool outdoor spaces, now let's work on the indoor spaces. So we've been really working on some cool, fun ideas, bringing some better identity to campus.
Dave BlanksNice. Well, that is exciting.
Jeff Pierce It also ties back into our sustainability goal as well. So as we standardize our interior design, our furniture, so forth, if we have a need somewhere else when we're renovating a space, we can take that furniture and move it somewhere else.
Dave BlanksRight.
Jeff Pierce Reuse it and repurpose it.
Dave BlanksSo it doesn't end up sad, mismatched and alone in the surplus.
Jacki McGuire Exactly.
Dave BlanksYeah I gotcha. Well, anything else you want to cover before we wrap it up today?
Jeff Pierce Well, yes, there's one other thing. So we started the, campus master plan.
Dave BlanksOkay.
Jeff Pierce And so we were starting down that. We started a data gathering, and some of the areas that we were looking at was outdoor spaces. How can we improve upon that? What we've done, Dave, just let everybody know that we've put that on pause at this point in time.
Jeff Pierce Due to the change in leadership here at the university. We want to just pause that and then we'll pick that up once things get set in the future with the new leadership, then we'll pick that back up. And those are the things that we'll be looking at our campus standards, our guidelines, better meeting spaces outside. How do we utilize our environment? Which is why a biggest number of our kids come here. They love the space here. Then taking that down to Hickory as well, what's going to be the nuances down there that's going to attract the kids to go down there. And what's going to be those key courses and offerings down there.
Dave BlanksOkay. So the master plan right now.
Jeff Pierce Is on hold.
Dave BlanksSo well all right. Thank you. That's a good head's up to have. Thank you. You all thank you so much! Jacki McGuire. Mr. Jeff Pierce, I appreciate you both very, very much for coming in today. And, yeah, thanks a lot.
Jeff Pierce Always a pleasure. Appreciate it. Thank you.
Jacki McGuire Yeah, thanks!

Monday Apr 22, 2024

Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities Management Nick Katers and Vice Provost of Academic Program Development and Strategic Initiatives Mike McKenzie join Dave Blanks in studio to discuss the renovation of Wey Hall.
Dave Blanks:Hey folks, how's it going? I'm Dave Blanks from University Communications and this is the campus construction update. It's been a moment since I've been in studio, but it's good to be back here. And I'm joined by Nick Katers and Dr. Mike McKenzie. Mike is the... Hey guys, how's it going? I'll say hey to you first.
Nick Katers:Good morning.
Dr. McKenzie:Good, good to be here.
Nick Katers:And how are you?
Dave Blanks:I'm great. I'm doing well. So Mike McKenzie, the vice provost of Academic Program Development and Strategic Initiatives, also the designated Academic Affairs representative for the university's space committee, and the designated person from the provost leadership team who's been working with the associate vice chancellor, Mr. Nick Katers, our other guest on the academic needs related to the Wey Hall renovation. That's the topic of the day, is Wey Hall. Nick Katers, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Management. I'll just give a little information about Wey, and then we're going to address some questions about it. So Wey is the home of the Department of Art. It offers more than 100 course sections to approximately 1,400 students. The building's classrooms are used by University College for general education and for first-year seminar courses. I guess, Nick, when was Wey built? Wey's been there for a little while.
Nick Katers:Right, yeah, that's exactly why we're talking about this today. So Wey Hall was built in 1976. It was the oldest building that the university had that had never been touched by a holistic renovation, so it was approaching end of life on several critical systems to include the electrical and plumbing. The bathrooms were out of date. The elevator was probably not functional about half the time, and there was no fire suppression or sprinkler system in the building. Now there is a fully functional alarm system, but given all of those faults and the impending loss of some of those critical systems, we judged it was time to give Wey a full comprehensive renovation.
Dave Blanks:Right. Yeah. Well that makes sense. Yeah, 50 years is a long time and it's had smaller stuff done, like you said, but not, what was your terminology for it? Comprehensive.
Nick Katers:Comprehensive renovation, essentially where we gut the whole thing and start over.
Dave Blanks:So that's what we're getting into now and we will talk about that in a little bit, but I understand there have been recent safety concerns about Wey, so if y'all would like to speak to those, maybe?
Nick Katers:During spring break, we had to do some destructive testing of the floors between the first and second floor. So we chose to do that where the students weren't there. The contractor ended up drilling some bores through the concrete deck of the second floor, and a couple of pieces of concrete fell. One fell into an unoccupied office at the time, and some other smaller pieces fell onto the ceiling tiles above one of the first floor labs. At no time did any of the concrete fall through an occupied area.
Dave Blanks:Yeah. So that was a big concern for people and there were some different storylines going around out there, but thank you for clarifying that. So the renovation currently going on, when did it start?
Nick Katers:Well, we've been working on the planning for about two years now, but we really started last summer by closing down the second and third floors. We decided because of a lack of similar type lab and industrial arts classrooms to keep the first floor open for this academic year while we work to find alternative spaces. But for the most part, the renovations are proceeding as scheduled on the second and third floor. The third floor is actually now starting to put new walls up. It's really looking pretty good.
Dave Blanks:So was it completely gutted?
Nick Katers:The second and third floors have been completely gutted. All the internal walls, all the bathrooms, everything was essentially pulled down so that we could start over. We had to run new electrical, new plumbing, new IT systems, HVAC improvements, fire suppression systems. All of those things are being added. And we're taking, similar to what we did with Sanford, we're taking the old internal elevator and moving it to the outside to be able to buy some of that space back for program area.
Dave Blanks:Gotcha. Yeah, it looks cool on Sanford. I like the visual of that. Maybe Mike, I don't know if you could address this, but are faculty and staff still in Wey right now?
Dr. McKenzie:So there are classes on that first floor, and those are those studio kind of classes, think your huge kilns and wood shops and metal shops. But the second and third floor are completely vacant, and the offices have been also vacated already. And those people have found homes across campus, a lot of them are in East Hall during the renovation. So the only active place right now in Wey Hall are those first floor studio spaces that, as Nick mentioned, are very unique. When Sanford shut down, it was just a matter of using our class software to move those classes to other locations across campus. And that works fine if you just need a classroom of 25 people, but when you need kilns and saws and those kinds of things, those classrooms don't exist. And so the decision was made in consultation with the academic leadership of the college, and consultation with the faculty, to keep the first floor open this year because it is the most unique space from an academic perspective we have on campus, I would say.
Dave Blanks:Okay. How is App addressing the student learning experience? So students are... If they've had to move out of Wey and faculty and staff as well, where are they working now?
Dr. McKenzie:So again, the studios are still open in Wey, so they have had access to all the equipment that they would've had under any other condition prior to this semester. Some of the other classes have been moved to East Hall. We have a class that Turchin has been nice enough to offer some space up. So if it's more of a traditional class, we've been able to move it really anywhere. If it is a very art-specific class where art is... They leave a trail sometimes.
Dave Blanks:My dad was an artist, so yes. My mom will attest to that.
Dr. McKenzie:Right. So a lot of those are in East Hall because we're not as concerned with paint and materials getting on the floor, the walls, as we would be if say I placed them in the College of Business for example.
Dave Blanks:Right. Yeah. Okay, I see what you mean. You did mention East is a space that's being utilized. Can y'all talk a little bit about safety inspections that have occurred in Wey, in East? I understand there have been some, maybe Nick you can handle that?
Nick Katers:That. Yeah, sure. Let me start with East. So East Hall, obviously a former residence hall built in 1952, built before the Americans with Disabilities Act was put in place. So there are some challenges that we have worked to address in East Hall. We're lucky to have three different level entrances into East Hall, and we've been able to accommodate every request that has come in. East Hall, again is an older building on campus. It has steam heat that's able to keep it climate controlled during the winter. What it doesn't have is a air conditioning system, and we still have a number of older buildings on campus that do not have air conditioning systems. So I'm happy that we've had a relatively mild spring so far, but East Hall was slated to be removed from inventory in the next couple of years. We had stopped using it as a residence hall, because we had the nice new beautiful residence halls on West Campus, and this provided us an opportunity to have some swing space while we were renovating both Wey and Duncan Hall.And so it's hard to take two academic buildings offline at the same time, but we were lucky enough to get this money from the legislature, so we had to move with what we had before prices went up too much. As far as safety inspections go, we've done multiple safety inspections at both East Hall and Wey Hall. At Wey Hall, we have ongoing daily inspections by Meter Construction, who's the general contractor. There are weekly inspections by the Office of Planning Design and Construction. And we also have an independent safety consultant that has been commissioned by Meter Construction to do that.Addressing some of the issues with the fire system, the Office of the State Fire Marshal came out on 1 April and conducted a holistic review of a previous inspection they had done in the fall. They passed the system. The fire alarm system is fully functional for all the studio spaces on the first floor, and they had no recommendations. We've had some internal inspections continue. We've had OSHA inspections that have all come through, and really the only findings that they have are to keep the access and egress areas clear. Sometimes we'll have stuff, not just from the contractor but from the students, to allow their pieces of work that they're working on there, sometimes that'll accumulate outside of the studio areas, and we just have to keep reinforcing that those access egress areas need to be kept clear. But right now there are no findings from the Office of the State Fire Marshal or the OSHA inspectors.
Dave Blanks:So Nick, you mentioned it, the state legislature allocated quite a bit of money for the upgrade of Wey to bring it to a state-of-the-art experience for our art students. So how much did we receive?
Nick Katers:24.1 million is our current level of funding. Yeah, I would've told you when that was allocated in 2019, 2020, that that would've been more than enough, but we're still struggling with some of the inflationary hikes that have gone up over the last couple of years to bring it in on budget. So the original allocation for Wey Hall was 19 million. We asked for an inflationary adjustment, which gave us additional money from the legislature, of an additional 4 million, and then we added some of our own internal carry-forward dollars to bring it up to its total amount. So we have continually adjusted to account for the inflationary impact on building construction. We're going to have the first floor, the third floor are going to be completely finished. The second floor will be mostly finished, and then it'll be completed by App State facilities and still opening on time.
Dave Blanks:Great. So well, what are the upgrades? What's this place going to look like, and when is the completion date?
Nick Katers:So the completion date is scheduled right now for the summer of 2025. That's a pretty conservative estimate. We're making great progress right now, but typically we don't reopen buildings during the school year just because there's so much that has to be moved in and out. So we're continuing to move through the renovation process with good efficiency right now. Obviously you can see the most major change is the elevator towers that are going to be pushed out to the outside of the building. We've moved some of the mechanical spaces to a new block expansion area outside the building, and we're also putting an external kiln pad outside of the building so we don't have to have the high heat producing items inside the studio spaces. Along with the normal life health safety issues, we're going to be upgrading all of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC systems. There will be a fully functional sprinkler and fire suppression system, state-of-the-art IT upgrades will go in, as well as a new suite of furniture and equipment for most of the spaces.
Dave Blanks:Sounds great. So one of the main concerns that students have right now, I feel like, is where are they going in the fall? In three weeks, the students will be out of Wey. So Mike, what's that going to look like? What's next?
Dr. McKenzie:Right. So this has been a really long process, and Nick and I have worked together with both of our offices repeatedly to really examine every possible solution to find homes for studios. We looked at several off-campus facilities. Honestly, the biggest problem we have with off-campus facilities are the permitting of the use of those buildings, renovations in those buildings and AppalCart access to those buildings as well. And as you can imagine, when you're only doing something temporarily, in this case for a year or less, how much money do you want to spend to upgrade a building that's not even yours, to then move right out?
Dave Blanks:That is a challenge, yeah.
Dr. McKenzie:So that didn't work. We looked at some of our existing spaces off campus, such as the Sofield building, for example.
Dave Blanks:What's been going on in there? I'm sorry to interrupt.
Dr. McKenzie:Yeah, so Sofield building is already a Fine and Applied Arts space. They do a lot of research. STBE is out there, and it's also where the solar car is. And so they do have some of that kind of equipment and it has that studio feel to it. And so we did examine that, and what I would say where we landed with Sofield, a couple issues did come up where the parking is limited for an off-campus building. And so that was an issue. AppalCart access in theory stops at eight o'clock, and these studio artists have to do a lot of outside of class project time, and eight o'clock may sound late, but they have a lot of projects where they work incredibly late and sometimes traffic with the AppalCart, and offsetting every class in Fine and Applied Arts by 30 minutes to the rest of campus, it was a possible solution, but it was going to be more disruptive than where we landed.And where we landed is basically space that already exists on campus. And so most Fine and Applied Arts studio art will be located in the Edwin Duncan Octagon for this upcoming year. And the things about the Octagon where we landed that we really like, number one, it is on campus. And speaking to someone from academic affairs, when you start spreading out faculty all over the town of Boone, it loses that department feel. You don't get to interact with your colleagues, there isn't that cross interdisciplinary work that can occur. So having them in the Octagon has an advantage of keeping them on the core of campus. Obviously, having them on the core of campus, the security, the parking, all of those things are already there because Duncan's part of campus. And so, the Octagon is not undergoing renovation and so if you've ever walked through the Octagon, it really is a big wide open space.And again, these studio arts need bigger spaces. They don't work in traditional classrooms. And so the Octagon allows us that kind of flexibility to move most of these programs in. We've done one walkthrough with the studio art faculty already. We're doing a second walkthrough soon. And that walkthrough is really just to game plan exactly what goes in what corner. And we're working with Nick's folks to properly make sure electrical systems and water systems and ventilation, because some of the projects, they do produce things. And so we're making sure from a safety perspective we're where we need to be. But I think Duncan far and away was the best option for, I think, our current students, is going to be the least disruptive for them, the least disruptive for the faculty, and really the least disruptive for campus by already keeping them on our main campus, so.
Dave Blanks:So when we're talking to Octagon, are we talking the lowest level as well, like the parking level?
Dr. McKenzie:So most things will be located in the classroom portion of the Octagon-
Dave Blanks:The actual... Okay, okay.
Dr. McKenzie:But to your point, there will be things that are located adjacent to the Octagon where we need to produce sparks and have, again, ventilation and things like that. But no, most of the things will be located in the Octagon, but to your point, when we say the Octagon, I would say we're really talking about the entire footprint of the Octagon.
Dave Blanks:Gotcha. Okay. All right, cool. Well that's interesting to know. And as somebody who parked there pretty frequently, I'm glad to see it back in use and for a good purpose. So that's great to know. Okay, well, so the Octagon's a great space. Is the entire department going to be located in there? It seems kind of small.
Dr. McKenzie:Right, so most things will be in the Octagon, but we've been meeting with Fine and Applied Arts and we have a couple additional spaces that will meet their needs. One being an existing Fine and Applied Arts building of Harper. And while Harper does not currently host art, it does host things like sustainable technology in the built environment, sustainable development, and there are some construction type applied design equipment in there. And so there's an opportunity for them to share some of those spaces. We also have worked across units. We have a large space in Holmes that is available for printing or some other large-scale machine if need be. And we also have, again, worked with the Turchin Center and they've identified two spaces we can use as classrooms. And so like I said, we are still meeting with the departments to do a final walkthrough of Octagon to figure out exactly what we can fit in there safety-wise and space-wise. And then the overflow would move to either Holmes Center, Turchin or Harper as needed. But everything is going to be kept on main campus.
Dave Blanks:And we should clarify that it's not the entire Edwin Duncan that's being used for this, it's just the section that is the Octagon. I think we've probably made that clear. But yeah, so Wey's going to be pretty awesome. I've seen the renderings that are on the future site, that's, you can go on there, you can see what you guys have planned and get more information. It's going to be state-of-the-art, it's going to be awesome. And there's some upheaval right now, but it's not permanent.
Dr. McKenzie:Right. I graduated from App actually in 1999, and I was an athletic training major in varsity gym, and I looked across the street and there was Holmes Center getting ready to open up for my academic program when I left.
Dave Blanks:Man.
Dr. McKenzie:And I think this is just that. We are fully renovating that building for the first time, and it is going to be set up for the future for decades after this. And I think the studio space is going to be what the students need. The classroom space is going to be what the students need. The building's going to be safer. And really what I think of the most exciting things around there, it's going to have the feel of an art building. I don't know that it has that feel right now, other than students have very creatively decorated Wey Hall in ways that they see fit. But I think we're going to have opportunity to display their work in a different way. And it's just going to be a building for a 2024 education in art moving forward. And I'm really excited about that. And I think our future arts students and our current art students will too.
Dave Blanks:Absolutely. Well, Nick and Mike, thank you both so much for being with me today. It's great to have the campus construction update back. Great to have you back in studio. Nick, you've been here before. Mike, it's your first time. But guys, thank you so much. And if people want to get more information, of course, like I just said, you can go to the site. Thank you both very much.
Nick Katers:Thanks.
Dr. McKenzie:Thank you.


Campus Construction Updates

Cranes, cones and diverted traffic. These generally mean one thing on a university campus — growth and change. Join your host, Dave Blanks, and his guests as they discuss the latest details on construction projects at Appalachian University.

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