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Life on Campus at NC State: September 2019

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Football Distraction

Montreal Canadiens v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

It’s been a while since I posted one of these campus updates to outline some of the changes going on around campus that I’ve seen mentioned across the Interwebz. With football season now fully underway, and people traveling back to Raleigh for games (and at one’s own peril with how things have looked on the field of late), I felt like it was probably time to post another one of these.

Bell(s) Tower:

I’ve posted about the renovations & additions to the NCSU Bell Tower previously. The Bell Tower was “completed” and dedicated in 1949, but was never actually finished. As detailed out within the “Life on Campus at NC State” from December 2017:

In 2008, a campaign was created to “Finish the Belltower”. As a result of this, the senior class of 2010 raised $56,000 to purchase the largest bell.

...it was officially announced on November 21, 2017 that a gift from Bill and Frances Henry will allow the University to “Finish the Belltower”...This plaza will also now be named “Henry Square”...In total, these construction and renovation efforts are expected to take about 3 years.

The link above in the header of this section details out the entire process that alumni Matt Robbins and Mike Thompson went through to kick off the “Finish the Bell Tower” campaign in 2009. It’s a pretty interesting story that makes you appreciate the amount of work that the different parties put into trying to raise the required funding for this project to complete the construction on the Bell Tower that initially began nearly a century ago.

Ultimately this project will add the 55-bell carillon, refurbish the structure of the tower that has been continually damaged by water for years now, replace the ladder inside the tower with a staircase, and renovate the plaza directly around the base of the tower. The work is expected to run until late 2020 or early 2021.

RIP Sullivan & Lee Hall Dorms (eventually):

NCSU underwent a process back in the late 2000’s of developing a Student Housing Master Plan. As part of this plan - which is expected to be finalized in late 2019 - the Lee & Sullivan Hall dorms will eventually be knocked down. However, this likely won’t be taking place at any point in the immediate future (5-10 years is the rough estimate provided) as NCSU must first build dorms elsewhere on campus to accommodate the student housing space that will be lost once Lee & Sullivan are no more. The article linked above from The Technician mentions that these new dorms will likely be built somewhere along Cates Avenue, will be hall or suite style dorms instead of apartments, and will be 4 to 5 stories tall. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the upcoming development in that area of campus will also involve either some major renovations to Doak Field, or the Pack 9 moving out of Doak and into a new stadium on a different area of campus.

DH Hill Library Renovations:

I mentioned this project in my previous post back in April, but DH Thrill is currently undergoing some pretty massive renovations. Construction started over the summer of 2019 and the project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020. This will impact the side of the building that faces the Brickyard and will expand the library’s atrium, construct a master staircase that will connect the ground floor through the 3rd floor, add space for the “Academic Success Center” that will house NCSU’s centralized tutoring program office, and add additional technology throughout the library similar to what can be found in Hunt Library on Centennial Campus.

To make up for the fact that the Brickyard entrance to DH Hill is temporarily closed, NCSU has opened up the Hillsborough Street side entrance to the library for the first time in nearly 30 years. This entrance was originally closed to limit the number of entry points to the building in an effort to improve security. However, with the entry way finally being re-opened, the entrance has been renovated, and the parking spaces that once sat between DH Hill and Hillsborough Street have been removed to make way for a small pedestrian plaza. The anticipation is that there will be other smaller projects in the coming years to continue the renovation efforts going on at DH Hill, but this undertaking is expected to be by far the most extensive of this work. Once the renovation has been completed, both the Hillsborough St. and Brickyard entrances to DH Hill will remain open permanently.

NCSU Plant Sciences Building:

Centennial Campus has long been primarily inhabited by Textile & Engineering students casting judgment down upon the peasants who spend all 4 of their undergrad years on main campus. However, coming in 2021, NCSU will be completing construction on the University’s first Plant Sciences building in nearly 50 years. NCSU raised $160 million in order to fund the construction of the building, which will be approximately 185,000 square feet.

Carmichael Gym Renovations:

I’ve mentioned these renovations a few times now, most recently in August 2018, but work is continuing on the Carmichael Gymnasium construction project. This link shows a picture of the current frame of the new building that provides a bit of an idea of what the overall scale of this project looks like. Construction is expected to conclude in 2020.

The project involves the construction of a new building to take the place of the one that previously housed an assortment of offices, classrooms, and racquetball courts as far as the eye could see. The new “Wellness and Recreation Center” will add 82,000 square feet to the Carmichael Gymnasium Complex, and will house a large number of new state of the art fitness areas. Additionally, the facility will have a teaching kitchen with the goal of educating students about the importance of nutrition. My college years (and pretty much every year since I graduated and became an “adult”) involved eating a lot of cereal for breakfast, lunch & dinner, so a teaching kitchen might be a decent alternative for students who don’t want to go down the same path that I bravely chose for myself.

Fitts-Woolard Hall:

In what has seemed like a theme throughout this post, there is another building that is currently being constructed on campus at NCSU that will open next year in 2020. This time it is the Fitts-Woolard Hall building on Centennial Campus. The building will be located directly next to Hunt Library and will house the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the dean’s administrative offices.

Hillsborough Street’s Fine Dining:

Hillsborough has seen a boom in recent years in terms of the number of apartments that have been constructed up and down the street. Those apartments have also led to much heavier foot traffic for the businesses on the street as well. Certain restaurants continually move into spaces on Hillsborough where they essentially price students out of being regular customers by setting too high of price points and also seemingly not grasping the fact that Hillsborough Street sits directly next to a college campus (looking at you Bocci, La Stella & H-Street). However, the quick casual spots on Hillsborough tend to do just fine and in the past few months, plans have been announced for the following spaces to open: Rush Bowls, Mezeh Grill, Kabab & Curry, and Moge Tea.

New Aquatics Facility on Campus:

Braden Holloway graduated from NCSU in 2001, and returned to Raleigh in 2011 to helm the NCSU Swimming & Diving program. Subsequent to his return to State, the Swimming & Diving programs almost immediately returned to national prominence under Holloway. In recognition of the efforts put in by Holloway, his staff, and the student athletes in the programs, State is looking to invest in upgrades to the area surrounding Carmichael Gymnasium & the Willis R Casey Aquatic Center.

The upgrades will consist of a 25x50 meter pool that will include diving platforms, as well as a new support building on site as well. These renovations will take the place of 6 of the outdoor tennis courts that currently sit atop that site and are set to conclude at some point during 2021. The current indoor pool utilized by the programs sits inside the Casey Aquatic Center, which was constructed in 1961, so it’s nice to see some additional resources being allocated to a program that truly deserves the additional support.

1974 Jerseys:

If you do not follow Tim Peeler on the Twitterverse or frequent his NCSU-centric blog, then I highly recommend that you do so for your dose of all things NC State. The article linked above is Tim’s account of a pretty wild story where former NCSU tennis player, Leslie Lewis, attended a state property surplus sale and happened upon 4 home white jerseys that were worn by members of NCSU’s 1974 national championship MBB team. These were jerseys that had been worn by Tommy Burleson, Monte Towe, Tim Stoddard and Moe Rivers. She also found a freshman team #44 jersey worn by David Thompson while she was at the same surplus sale.

The Lewis family recently donated these 1974 team jerseys back to NCSU & the Wolfpack Club, and they will soon be displayed - along with a David Thompson 1975 worn white home jersey - in the NC State Athletics Hall of Fame in the concourse at Reynolds Coliseum.

East Village Development:

I mentioned previously that Hillsborough Street favorite, East Village Bar & Grill, is no more. The building was knocked down earlier this year to make way for the 478th different apartment complex to be constructed along Hillsborough in recent years (just a rough estimate). In addition to East Village, this project has claimed the buildings that previously housed College Beverage, Curious Goods, DIGITZ and Triangle Motorsports. This apartment complex, “3020 Hillsborough”, will be 3 stories tall and house 142 residential units - along with ground level retail. One of the tenants in the ground level retail space will be East Village 2.0.

What exactly the space will look like has yet to be disclosed. I obviously like to hear that East Village will be back in some way, shape, or form (especially since they were still giving away East Village gift certificates at Doak Field last baseball season), but I’m pretty interested in seeing what the final design of the space will look like. Hillsborough is in need of some main-stay type of restaurants & bars that are run by individuals who know how to cater to the college crowd (again, looking at you La Stella & H-Street), but if this new East Village does not have some kind of deck incorporated into the design, ample room on the interior for the $2 Busch Light on draft advertisements, or a wall placed at the bottom of a downward sloping parking lot making it easy for unwanted visitors of the automotive kind, then they might as well just name it something else.

Fountain Dining Hall Renovations:

State has 3 true dining halls on the main campus - Clark, Case & Fountain. During my time at State, you only really went to Fountain if you were too lazy or hungover to make it all the way over to Case (if you had the appropriate access) or Clark. Fountain apparently underwent some renovations over the summer that has now connected the two serving areas that used to be at Fountain. Still no word on what these renovations will mean for the availability of the corn nuggets that were always an NCSU Dining favorite.

PNC Upgrades:

I mentioned these PNC upgrades way back in my very first installment of this series in July 2017. Since that time, a new scoreboard/jumbotron has been added that will debut this season, and a new 3D projection system for the court/ice debuted last season.

As mentioned in the above article from the N&O, the proposals for the renovations have detailed out plans for a rooftop bar & restaurant that will overlook Carter-Finley, lounges beneath the main concourse level, the removal of stairwells & suites to add more “income producing spaces”, and the removal of certain aisles to add in additional seating. These renovations are expected to come with a price tag of between $160 million - $200 million. The money for these renovations is to be generated through Raleigh & Wake County’s hotel/motel & prepared food tax. Last month the Raleigh City Council approved the plan that will allocate $9 million of the tax to PNC Arena annually for a period of 25 years.

Here’s to hoping that with the additional $$$ getting poured into PNC (as well as the recently opened Drive Shack just down the road), we’ll see some retail & dining options pop up around the arena because unless you’ve got it bad for Backyard Bistro, the area doesn’t offer much else in the way of entertainment or dining.

Mission Valley Cinemas:

I never spent very much time over in the Mission Valley Shopping Center aside from watching some games at Sammy’s Tap & Grill or late night wanderings from the Avent Ferry Dorms to the Burger King over that way. The shopping center as a whole felt a little dated by the time I stepped foot on campus in 2009. However, the one place I really enjoyed each time I visited, despite there being nicer alternatives close by in Crossroads & North Hills, was Mission Valley Cinemas. Before it became common place at movie theaters, Mission Valley was the first in the area that I can remember where you could purchase a beer to go along with your popcorn. The theater at Mission Valley opened in 1973, and based on the look of it, there hadn’t been too many renovations put into the property since back when it opened during a time when Roger Moore debuted on the screen as 007 and Star Wars was a relatively new franchise that wasn’t being shoved down the public’s collective throats every year.

Based on this article provided by WRAL, it sounds as though leaks & water damage finally did the old theater in. There has been some discussion that another party might step in to buy the property, renovate, and re-open, but as of now the theater is closed.

Good Edumacation Stuff & Things:

Other than being a University with an athletics department that doubles as a sadness & frustration factory for its fans, NCSU is also an institution of higher learning (shocking, I know). It’s always nice to see some news out there like what I’ve linked below that helps the overall public perception of the University.

That’s all I’ve got for this month’s Life on Campus at NC State. I’ll be back in Raleigh for the Thursday night game against Syracuse and am planning on taking a walk around campus that following Friday. Would really enjoy it if the football team could help make that a leisurely stroll around my alma mater rather than an angry power walk where I’m yelling at the clouds.