More than 100 craft workers 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 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; craft workers; sub-contractors; and stakeholders from the Appalachian community.
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.
Voice 1: Alright, you’re tightening up now. Cable up. Cable up. Alright, you’re clear man. Take it up.
Voice 2: Here it comes Josh!
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
The ceremony and a barbecue lunch were 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.
It is a tradition in the high rise building industry for craft workers to sign the final beam before it is put into place. Also signing during the June 8 topping ceremony for the new Beaver College of Health Sciences facility were former and founding college Dean Fred Whitt and Appalachian's Chancellor Sheri N. Everts. Photos by Troy Tuttle
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 craft workers “to imagine the discoveries, the great things that are going to happen here over the next 100 years because of you.”
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.
On the scene - different voices, different dreams
Three Mountaineers have been employed by Rodgers Builders and are currently working on the BCHS project.
Construction Management and Building Science
Construction Management and Building Science
A former student, craftsworker and a relocated and retired construction superintendent weigh in on the project.
And, behind the scenes
On site during the ceremony but watching from the sidelines was Allison Kemp-Sullivan, the BCHS project manager in Appalachian’s Planning Design and Construction Department. “Project managers are a humble group,” her supervisor, Associate Director of Planning Design and Construction W. Steve Martin, said. “She enjoyed the attention the project was getting,” he said, but chose to stay behind the scenes. “I can tell you,” he continued, “the ultimate reason why the BCHS project has remained on schedule and has witnessed the success it has thus far is because of Allison.”
The topping ceremony was just one such successful milestone, Martin remarked. “Allison has brought her focus to bear on this project for well over a year now, including the selection and managing of the professional design team and construction management team, along with meeting with the faculty and staff of the College of Health Sciences to ensure their expectations are met," he said.
In her duties, Kemp-Sullivan meets with each constituent weekly (if not daily) to discuss and coordinate schedules, budgets and issues that arise. “She is very diligent and dedicated to the success of this project,” Martin said, “and although she is too humble to say it, Allison is the primary reason the largest capital improvement project in the history of Appalachian State University is such a resounding success.”