East Hall converts to office spaces


Leo Rodriguez-Anaya

The lower level of East hall is home to App State’s Office of Sustainability, an example of an office space on the lower level is shown.

Zoey Sigmon and William Becker

Next semester, East Hall will be home to new office space for professors during renovations to Wey and Edwin Duncan Hall. 

Wey and Edwin Duncan will soon be under renovation, seeing significant improvements to their buildings, Wey in spring 2023 and Edwin Duncan in fall 2023.

Both buildings contain labs, classrooms and former office space. Michelle Novacek, finance and operations liaison for the university, wrote in an email that the target date for moving faculty into East Hall is Jan. 1, 2023. 

“We are so fortunate to have funds to renovate Duncan and Wey this year,” Novacek said. “But of course it’s a huge challenge to find spaces for everyone from two buildings to land while construction is underway — especially when departments would like to stay together as much as possible and still be on campus where there’s easy access for students.”

Nick Katers, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Management, said the use of East Hall as an office space came as a solution for relocating faculty from Wey and Duncan before renovations begin. Katers said the building was already vacant, as East was set for demolition due to the “revitalization of all the residence halls,” and the team “worked out a deal with housing” to repurpose the space.

“It’s not ideal,” Novacek said. “But you’ve got some of our most creative people on campus, faculty who are also artists and architects, helping to turn the puzzle pieces around and figure out how we can fit into East in a functional and even enjoyable way.”  

Katers said the team was given money for the project last year but is currently in the design phase of the project. He estimates this will take a year to complete before renovations can begin. 

While the transition has not affected on-campus living availability, the team has seen issues with the redistribution of classes from Wey and Duncan, Katers said. However, Katers said the courses in Wey have “provided some interesting challenges,” as the building is home to the art department and consists of “very specific types of labs and classrooms” that may or may not have a space compatible with their needs elsewhere on campus.

Katers said the team is currently working on determining locations for redistribution and has found some “commonalities” between Wey, Katherine Harper and Kerr Scott Hall as there are “a lot of the same types of labs.”

This issue is estimated to be resolved “before the next course catalog,” Katers said. 

Jeana Klein, professor of fibers and assistant chair of art curriculum, said reactions among faculty affected by these projects have been largely “enthusiastic” due to the long-term benefits they will provide. 

“I’m thinking about all the potential opportunities that we might have to think in other creative ways and to take our courses in different directions that we might not have been able to do in Wey,” Klein said. “Then we get to return to an improved space where we’ll be able to do what we do even better.”

The project also includes more minor scale renovations to Peacock Hall, which houses the Walker College of Business. Katers said while Peacock will remain “semi-functional” during renovations, Wey and Edwin Duncan will be “completely closed,” beginning spring 2023 and summer 2023, respectively. 

Katers said the estimated renovation period would span 18-24 months. However, he said when working on older buildings such as Wey and Edwin Duncan, many variables can vary the duration of construction. 

Katers said East Hall would be used as an office space for the entirety of the renovations to Wey, Edwin Duncan and Peacock Hall.

Novacek said efforts to determine spacing and special access needs for faculty moving to East Hall have already been completed. Additionally, she said meetings with stakeholders are currently underway before spaces are assigned and final results are communicated.

East Hall is currently slated for potential demolition within the next five years, according to the university’s Master Plan 2025; however, a firm decision has yet to be made.