By Greg Hince
June 7, 2012. Appalachian State’s George G. Beasley Broadcasting Complex, located on the corner of Depot and Rivers Streets, should be completed by January and will hold classes starting spring semester. Construction has been delayed multiple times due to budget cuts or logistical reasons, like getting design plans approved by the town council and state construction office.
The university originally announced plans to begin work on the building near Walker Hall in Summer 2008, with a tentative grand opening set for spring 2010. That date was later pushed back to spring 2012, and now early 2013. The outside should be done by August, allowing for the other lane on Rivers St. to be re-opened.
The contractor, James R. Vannoy & Sons Construction Co. of Jefferson, still needs to add an L-shaped stone wall to the plaza on the right-hand side of the building featuring stones from the old building, which was almost completely refurbished. The building used to house the Alliance Bible Fellowship and later Reich College of Education’s Communication Disorders Clinic. Built in 1954, it was originally the Boone bus depot.
The university purchased the property in 2000. Before they could begin construction, the school had to request a zoning change from B-1 (central business district) to U-1 (university) from the Boone Town Council.
Greg Lovins, Chief Financial Officer at Appalachian, said that re-using the original stones was not mandated by the town, but was very important for the Communication Department, university and town, who all worked together on the project.
“This new complex means a lot to the university, and the building has been there forever, so we tried to save all we could,” Lovins said.
He said that the original plan was to renovate and add on to the building, but the contractor stated that it was in such disrepair it had to be “gutted”. The architects, WNH Architects of Charlotte, also had to change the building’s design mid-way because state regulations required it to be elevated and fitted for handicapped parking since it is located in a floodplain. If not for a relatively mild winter, Lovins said the project could have been further delayed.
Kraut Creek runs near the property. Lovins said the university is interested in preserving Kraut Creek, and rainwater would be caught in a tank for reuse.
Along with practical challenges, the project stalled because of a lack of funding. According to Lovins, in the past, ASU dedicated about $4 million per year to repairs and renovations, but because of several years with no funding appropriations for maintenance the university fell behind after years of rapid growth and construction.
The new complex will feature broadcast studios, classrooms and labs for students and offices for faculty members in the Department of Communication’s electronic media broadcasting program. The 18,000 square-foot building was LEED-designed. The Beasley Broadcasting Complex is a three-story structure, with the bottom level providing a screened parking area. The project cost approximately $4.5 million, which was raised through a combination of private donations and state funds.
As part of the site preparation, the university moved the stones from the building’s walls to another site where they were cleaned and stored. The courtyard walls will be designed to reflect the architectural style of the bus depot’s original stone facade. The area in the plaza will be smaller than originally envisioned, but will also feature planters, trees, and benches.
“We wanted to create and area where families could walk by and stop to talk and visit,” Lovins said.
The wall will be the last part of the complex completed.
“It will be about 25 feet across, with no doors and open windows,” Bill Bailey, Planning and Inspections Director for the town of Boone said.
Mike O’Connor, Physical Plant Director at Appalachian, is overseeing the project. Joe Haden, of WHN Architects, is the main architect.
“We had to make a few changes along the way, but the building should turn out great,” Haden said.
The complex is named for George G. Beasley of Naples, Fla. Beasley earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts Degree in business Education from Appalachian in 1958 and 1959. He is the founder of Beasley Broadcast Group Inc.
Beasley started the company in Benson, N.C. in 1961, and has owned multiple radio stations across the United States. A gift from Beasley to the Appalachian State University Foundation helped make the project possible. Beasley has served on Appalachian’s Foundation Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Ann, had the chancellor’s football guest box named in their honor in 2006 after contributing to the Athletics Facilities Campaign.
The first floor of the building will host the new WASU-FM radio complex, offices, two production suites and a waiting area, as well classrooms wired for audio/video production, and computer and audio labs. The building will also will be the home of the Kellar Radio Farm System Institute, a 10-day program for training and recruiting future radio broadcasters.
The second floor will contain two television studios and control rooms, offices, a green room (guest reception room), storage and six video editing suites. The television studio will be the largest studio in the department.
Appalachian’s Department of Communication, part of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and is currently one of the largest departments on campus with more than 900 students. The department offers degrees in Advertising, Communication Studies, Electronic Media/Broadcasting, Journalism and Public Relations.