BOONE, N.C.—More than 100 craftworkers looked upward, many with visible pride, as the final steel beam was lifted by crane to the top of Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences (BCHS) facility June 8. The building is slated to open in August of 2018.
The “topping ceremony,” is a centuries old tradition in building. On hand for the ceremony were leadership from Appalachian and health care partner Wake Forest University; representatives from LS3P Associates, the building architects; craftworkers; sub-contractors; and stakeholders from the Appalachian community.
The ceremony and a barbecue lunch was hosted by Rodgers Builders Inc. (RBI), the lead contractor for the project. In introductory remarks, RBI Senior Vice President of Construction Operations Andy Cyr explained, “Legend has it that centuries ago, builders would hoist an evergreen tree to the topmost point of a structure to signal that a celebration was about to begin. Today we mark our celebration by placing a beam into position bearing an evergreen tree along with an American flag.” An Appalachian State University banner also hung from the beam that earlier had been signed by the workers and other attendees.
It has been little more than one year since the groundbreaking and the project is on schedule. “Today’s event celebrates a milestone toward a major achievement for Appalachian and the High Country region,” Appalachian’s Chancellor Sheri N. Everts said. “For generations, Appalachian has worked to increase access to quality health care in Western North Carolina. With great progress in the construction of this facility, we are closer to realizing an exciting new level of health care education and access for the region.”
The property on Deerfield Road is adjacent to the Watauga Medical Center and was donated by Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.
A dream becomes reality
Senior Vice President of LS3P Associates Ltd. Paul Boney told the audience while the architects get to create the plans the workers are what make it happen.
“We get to draw it, but you all are the ones that have brought this dream to reality,” Boney said. “No one single person makes a deal like this happen. It takes everybody working together as a team.” He asked the craftworkers “to imagine the discoveries, the great things that are going to happen here over the next 100 years because of you.”
Over the course of the past year’s construction, Cyr said:
- More than 400 craft workers completed on-site safety programs;
- Around 125 workers were on site each workday;
- 9,500 cubic yards of concrete was installed;
- 9,000 (more than 1,500 tons) pieces of structural steel were placed;
- 239 solar panels were installed, and;
- 40,000 cubic yards of dirt was displaced.
Dr. Fred Whitt, the founding dean of the college that opened in 2010, has been instrumental in visioning, planning and directing the design of the facility. “When I look at this construction, I know exactly where every person and every office will be. I can see them working and learning inside. This is the most comprehensive building of this type in the state. It will bring 14 of the 16 programs into one building for the first time, and will foster what we call an inter-professional experience. No other medical college houses that many departments under one roof.”
Nearly 20 percent of Appalachian’s students are taught by Beaver College of Health Sciences faculty. Including nursing, there are six departments and 16 undergraduate and graduate degrees offered in the college, from disciplines including communication sciences and disorders, and nutrition and health care management.
Currently, the departments are located in a number of buildings on campus.
About the Beaver College of Health Sciences
Appalachian’s College of Health Sciences opened in 2010 as the result of a strategic university commitment to significantly enhance the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities in North Carolina and beyond. In 2015, the college was named for an Appalachian alumnus and pioneer in the healthcare industry – Donald C. Beaver ’62 ’64 of Conover. The college offers 10 undergraduate degree programs and six graduate degree programs, which are organized into six departments: Nursing, Social Work, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Nutrition and Health Care Management, Health and Exercise Science, and Recreation Management and Physical Education.
Appalachian State University’s Beaver College of Health Sciences celebrated the half-way mark on construction of its new facility and honored workers with a topping ceremony in early June.
On June 8, 2017, a topping ceremony was held to celebrate the final steel beam being hoisted to the top of Appalachian State University's Beaver College of Health Sciences facility.
Chancellor Sheri N. Everts: This building is very important to Appalachian State University, to our faculty, staff and students. This building is also important to Boone, Watauga County and to the entire High Country. We know the inhabitants of this building will improve healthcare for western North Carolina and beyond for decades to come.
Martin Root: It took a lot of people. It took a lot of effort to get here. I was here when Dean Whitt started the college, and the very first day he came he said, “I’m going to build a building.” And I thought, “No…that really can’t happen.” And yet, here we are!
Fred Whitt: Currently, our programs here at Appalachian are housed across six to eight buildings on campus. To have everybody housed in one facility creates synergy that you just can’t duplicate anywhere else. Whether it’s the inter-professional health clinic we’ll have, which will have nurses, P.A. students, nutritionists, social workers all working together to simulate patient education. Or whether it’s interaction and research with classes in healthcare management, nutrition…just having all the players that are part of the healthcare team being educated together will be very unique.
Chuck Mantooth: And obviously it represents a tremendous opportunity for the development of our partnership with Appalachian State University. We’ve worked well in the past and I think this will just exponentially create new opportunities for us in the future.
As the building comes together, two Mountaineers have already left their mark on the project...
Benjamin Rickard is currently enrolled as a full time student at Appalachian, while also working full time as a field coordinator for Rodgers Building, Inc.
Chris Wagner, also a field coordinator for Rodgers, graduated from Appalachian in 2016.
Chris Wagner '16: For me, today means so much, being an App grad and being a part of a project that is for Appalachian. I mean, I love this school with all of my heart, and when I got on with Rodgers and they gave me an opportunity and said, “You’re going back to Boone,” I definitely didn’t argue with them. App prepared me so much for this job. I mean, I’m grateful to all my professors and anyone associated to the programs that we have today. Being out here in the field, being able to show leadership and being out here with guys who have been doing it for ten, twenty years and having their respect and their input to help me grow has been amazing.
Benjamin Rickard: It has been incredible to be a part of this project for Appalachian State. It’s a sense of pride to know that I contributed something to Appalachian State that not very many students get a chance to do.
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MR: This day is quite significant for the future of the college, the town, the community, this area of the country. This college is going to make a significant difference in the education of healthcare professionals for western North Carolina. It’s going to have a significant impact on the research into healthcare, the provision of healthcare for this part of the country. There are going to be great labs here. So healthcare in the High Country’s going to benefit in many, many ways from having this building here. We’re really pleased to look forward to the future and to see what happens. It’ll be great.
FW: I think when we look at the future of what can happen in this building, you know, I look at it today and it reminds me of a skeleton. It has all the bones, but to be able to put the meat on the bones, if you will, the muscle, various ligaments, and then the heart and the blood flow to make it breathe…that’s what will happen. As this building rises out of the ground, so do the expectations for the Beaver College of Health Sciences. And it does provide the infrastructure now to expand in programs such as occupational therapy, physical therapy…programs that are a real need in the area that we don’t currently offer.
To learn more about how you can contribute to the future of the Beaver College of Health Sciences, visit http://give.appstate.edu/healthsciences
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.