Rowan-Cabarrus Community College's bond construction to begin in January

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY – Students in the Rowan Early College program will begin moving out of Building 200 on the campus of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College by the end of this year so a series of construction projects can get under way.
“We need to move them out of this wing so that we can start the renovation to prepare the whole domino sequence,” Jonathan Chamberlain, the school’s chief planning officer, said during a board of trustees meeting earlier this week.
When all the dominoes have fallen, RCCC will have spent more than $16 million to modernize and expand buildings on its North campus, thanks largely to voters’ approval in 2010 of a $12 million bond referendum.
The Early College students will move to 10 mobile units on another part of the campus.
“We’re shooting to have that (move) completed in December 2012, so they can be ready to move in there when they start back from classes in January,” Chamberlain said.
That move will allow the college to begin renovations to Building 200. The second floor of the facility’s south wing will become administrative space so that the business office and human resources will be in the same building as President Dr. Carol Spalding’s office.
The completion of that project, set for May 2013, will allow those departments to move out of Building 300 so that space can be transformed from administrative to classroom space by December 2013.
The college’s Teaching Auditorium will also be revamped. Chamberlain said the 300-seat auditorium is too small for large meetings and too big for classes.
“We’ll be splitting that into two lecture auditoriums that will be more flexible for our uses,” he said.
Renovations to the auditorium should be finished by October 2013.
About 30,000 square-feet, including 18 new classrooms, will be added to Building 600, the school’s allied health science facility.
“We are maintaining all of our existing square footage,” Chamberlain said. Areas that were remodeled just over a year ago, radiology on the ground floor and science labs on the second floor, will essentially stay the same, he said, but the rest of the building will be remodeled.
General classrooms as well as occupational therapy and physical therapy suites will be added to the first floor. The second floor will include a common area and new classroom space.
The building will feature a partially covered drop off area.
“That’s particularly critical in this case because of the occupational therapy and physical therapy programs. They are going to be doing some clinicals with live patients, and those folks are typically handicapped in some way,” Chamberlain said. “We need to be able to facilitate moving them out conveniently and safely.”
The addition to the building is expected to be complete by June 2014, and the renovation should wrap up by November 2014.
New focal point
Architect Rob Johnson of MBAJ Architecture designed Building 600 to be a focal point for the college.
“The magnitude of this building is really strong as is its ability to brand the college,” he said. “No one has better exposure in the state than Jake Alexander Boulevard where this building is going to be built.”
Johnson said the main facade will face Interstate 85.
“That will be a beacon,” he said. “It will be great during the day and even more powerful at night.”
The facility can be a community asset with local materials indigenous to Rowan County, he said.
Johnson said he kept in mind that classes are no longer about an instructor standing in front of the room spouting off information.
“To be successful, we had to create a very student-centered, active learning space,” he said. “It’s a very special project and we’re very excited about it.”
Salisbury Mayor Pro Tem Susan Kluttz, a member of the college’s board of trustees, said she’s impressed with Johnson’s plans for the building. “I love the idea of using sort of what’s here in Rowan County and what’s here in Salisbury,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a terrific asset in appearance as well as of course educationally.”
Accessible to the disabled
The Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades will be made following the completion of all buildings.
“When the campus was built in various different phases from 1963 and 1975, ADA did not exist,” Chamberlain said. “We now have the requirement to make the buildings accessible to people of all abilities, and we need to embrace that and bring the campus up to current standards.”
Courtyard renovations will be done in the last phase of construction.
“You don’t want to pour all the concrete sidewalks and add all those beautiful plants in the midst of construction,” Chamberlain said.
Fire training
Groundbreaking for the new fire and emergency training center is set for January 2013. The project includes a 3,500 square-foot burn building, 2,500 square-foot mock fire station and a training yard.
Chamberlain said it will also feature a fire truck training drive.
“The fire cadets have to actually learn to drive vehicles, and unfortunately our drives around campus have suffered because of that,” he said. “Just the weight of the vehicles and the process of learning how to drive has been tough on our roadways.”
An open field near the facility will have training props such as a railroad car, tipped over tanker truck and various cars to set on fire.
The fire and emergency training center is set to be complete next June.
Spalding said those who work and attend the college will have to be patient as the construction projects get under way.
“We think we’re better served to pace ourselves and do this thing one step at a time,” she said. “So for a while it’s going to look worse, and then it’s going to look a lot better and it’s going to perform better, and I think it’s going to be a great attraction to students.
“It’s going to be a great place for them to want to stay. If they want to stay, they are going to finish, and that’s the whole point.”
The $12 million bond referendum approved by Rowan County voters in November 2010 will fund the bulk of the construction costs, which come in at nearly $16.1 million.
A $2 million U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant, $1.3 million equipment fund re-allocation from the state in 2011 and an anticipated equipment fund re-allocation of $275,000 this year will help make up the funding difference.
“That leaves us with an unfunded amounted of roughly $500,000, which will be primarily for furnishings and equipment that we will need to make the allied health building the state of the art facility that we want it to be,” Chamberlain said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.