A well-known and often disliked classroom building on the N.C. State University campus is approaching its final days.
Harrelson Hall, a circular structure that opened in 1961, is being stripped to its concrete and steel frame. A hydraulic crusher will tear out pieces of the building in June, and crews will raze the remaining parts by mid-August.
“We’re going to make a piece of pie, going inward, and we’re basically going to cut our way to the core,” said Josh Griffin, project manager for Kimley-Horn and Associates, a consulting firm with an office in Raleigh.
Griffin, who graduated from N.C. State in 2008 with a master’s degree in structural engineering, led a design team for the project. He said he’s not sad to see Harrelson go.
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University officials decided to tear down the building because it would be too expensive to renovate. And they figured it would make sense to have a more traditionally shaped structure for learning.
When it opened, Harrelson won acclaim for its main architect, Edward Walter Waugh.
Roughly 85 percent of N.C. State students at some point attended a class in Harrelson, which accommodated up to 4,500 students in 88 circular and windowless classrooms.
Harrelson was the most-used academic building in the UNC system for decades and became known for its uncomfortable seating, loud heating and cooling system, lack of natural light and pie slice-shaped bathroom stalls.
After it’s gone, the space that Harrelson once occupied will serve as green space until the science department raises enough money to build something new.
The materials that make up the building are finding new life. One of the project’s goals is to divert 90 percent of the non-hazardous materials from landfills.
A fire department took doors and hinges to use during training exercises. Habitat for Humanity took furniture and white boards to a local charter school.
Liz Bowen, program coordinator for the University Sustainability Office, said she has been working more than a year to find people and businesses to recycle items from Harrelson. Even the ceiling tiles will be reprocessed into new products.
“I’ve been playing a matchmaker role with reusable material,” Bowen said.
Since so much of the building is made of steel, concrete and other metals, the university should meet its recycling goal for the project, said Adam Garrett, division manager for D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. in Raleigh.
Asbestos-containing materials such as tile mastic, duct insulation and window caulking have already been removed, Garrett said.
Pine trees surrounding the building will be removed but new trees will be planted, Bowen said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi