SAS Hall

The Story Behind SAS Hall

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and SAS Hall Dedication Slide Show

and another SAS Hall Dedication Slide Show  

SAS Hall

Harrelson Hall was built in 1962 as a general classroom building. It also was home for the Department of Mathematics and parts of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. It is a large cylindrical building that is a landmark on the NC State University north campus. Despite it's striking external appearance, Harrelson Hall was badly in need of renovation to bring it line with modern facilities for teaching and research. In November 2000, the North Carolina Legislature approved the Higher Education Bond Referendum to meet the construction needs of the university and community college system for the next 10 years. The list of approved projects included $13.6 million for the renovation of Harrelson Hall.

Harrelson Hall
(picture by Richard Chandler)

Later that year Burniston attended a meeting on the bond issue given by the university architect Mike Harwood. While talking to Harwood after the meeting Burniston said that he thought that spending $13.4 million on Harrelson would be a waste of money and asked what the cost of a new building would be. Harwood agreed and said that a new building would cost about $18.4 million, but that it would not be easy to find the money or to get approval to use the bond money for a new building.

Early in 2001 Ray Fornes, Associate Dean for Research in PAMS, came to Burniston's office to discuss some other issues. Burniston mentioned that instead of renovating Harrelson, a new building could be constructed for an additional $5 million. Fornes became a supporter of the project but realized that it might be difficult to get it done.

In order to get a formal proposal in front of the administration Burniston asked Carl Meyer and Michael Shearer to make a detailed study of the arguments for a new building. In the fall of 2001, Meyer and Shearer produced a report: "The Case for a Mathematical Sciences Building." that states in part:

"Harrelson Hall suffers from major architectural flaws that include: classrooms serving thousands of students each day being immediately adjacent to faculty offices; a poorly designed hallway system [with] intractable problems [of] noise and congestion; unresolved difficulties with heating and air conditioning; external stairways that are neither heated in the winter nor cooled in the summer; no public elevators; no public restrooms in the main part of the building; ad hoc telecommunications wiring; inadequate electrical wiring; an almost total lack of meeting and conference rooms; and no commons areas."
The department was searching for a new head during this time and one of the applicants reportedly told the administration that we had one of the best mathematics departments in the country housed in the worst mathematics building in the country.

The Meyer-Shearer report was presented to the NC State Facilities Planning Committee. Facilities Planning did an independent evaluation, which was much more extensive than the evaluation prior to the bond program. The Committee concluded that the funds required for a renovation project were much greater than the bond funds allotted. Further, even with a renovation, the building would not have the features of a modern mathematics building. Although not much happened at this time, these were the first steps in a long process which led the the construction of SAS Hall, a new building housing both the mathematics and the statistics departments, that was completed in 2009.

The first mention of a building including both Mathematics and Statistics appeared in a report of the PAMS Space Committee dated Sept. 10, 2002. In discussing Harrelson Hall, it argues:

"Harrelson Hall preferably will be replaced by a new building if sufficient resources can be added to the funds reserved in the current bond project for the renovation of Harrelson Hall. Under this scenario a new Mathematical Sciences Building will be constructed at an alternative site that would be equivalent to the spaces (including office, labs, conference and teaching) assigned to the Mathematics and Statistics Departments."

When J. P. Fouque became interim Mathematics Department Head in 2003, he read the Meyer-Shearer report arguing for a new building and decided to push the project along. He set up a new committee consisting of Carl Meyer, John Franke, Michael Shearer and Mette Olufsen to update the findings of Meyer and Shearer. In May 2003 the committee issued a new report: "A New Building for Mathematical Sciences." Associate Dean Fornes attached a preamble stating in part:

"The inadequacy of the building [Harrelson Hall] is often noted by the many visitors to the department. To paraphrase a finalist in the Department Head Search: 'Harrelson Hall is the worst mathematics department building in a major US university, and perhaps the second worst in the world.'

"The university has recognized the need to improve Harrelson Hall by making the facility a priority for a major renovation project in the bond program. The Department and the College are fully convinced that the replacement of Harrelson with an appropriately designed new building for the Department of Mathematics would be a much better plan"

In the spring of 2003, Fouque, together with Meyer, Franke, Shearer and Olufsen, went directly to Chancellor Mary Anne Fox to present their arguments for a new building. The chancellor was very supportive of the project. However, she pointed out that it would be necessary to get approval from the Board of Trustees, the Board of Governors and the State Legislature before the renovation money could be used for a new building. In August of 2003, Lisa Johnson, associate university architect, submitted a report recommending that Harrelson Hall be replaced rather than renovated. The report concluded:

"As this study has indicated, the renovation of Harrelson Hall will cause a loss of usable space and classroom seating capacity, and still not achieve the goals of correcting accessibility deficiencies, and improving classroom capacity and quality standards. NC State University recommends removal and replacement of Harrelson Hall with a new, 100% code-compliant general classroom building that meets the current instructional needs of NC State's faculty, and students and is designed to be flexible to better meet the needs of the classroom of the future. A new classroom building, with an equivalent amount of assignable square footage as post-renovated Harrelson, can be built for an approximately equivalent cost as that of renovating Harrelson Hall. Since a new facility will remedy many of the problems that the renovation cannot and this option will have a longer life, it is recommended that this approach be pursued rather that continuing efforts to renovate Harrelson."

By the fall of 2003, the University Administration, PAMS and the Mathematics Department were all of one mind that Harrelson hall should be replaced and not renovated. In the spring of 2004 the university presented the proposal to the Board of Trustees, the Board of Governors and the State Legislature and obtained permission to use the Harrelson Hall renovation funds for a new "General Classroom Building" to house the Mathematics Department and some parts of CHASS.

In June of 2004, Chancellor Fox appointed an "Ad-Hoc Building Committee for the Classroom and Office Building to replace Harrelson Hall" to act as a Users Group in the development of the design of the new building. Dean Solomon was chairman of the committee, which included members of the administration, mathematics department and CHASS. Planning for this General Classroom Building continued through the spring and summer of 2004.

The new "Classroom and Office Building to replace Harrelson Hall" was originally to hold only classrooms and offices for the mathematics department. Dean Solomon had long dreamed of a "mathematical sciences building" to house both the mathematics and statistics department. While the initial planning for the replacement for Harrelson was going on, Dean Solomon, with the help of Anita Stallings, PAMS Executive Director of Development, searched for funding to make the dream a reality. In the fall of 2004 they were successful in obtaining a commitment for a substantial gift from corporate partner SAS. The gift was to be used to enable the construction of a larger building that would house both the mathematics and statistics departments. The Users Group was expanded to include members of the statistics department. Planning for the new building continued from the fall of 2004 through 2005 and 2006.

Goodnight, Sall, Murphy, Helminck, Pantula, Oblinger
at the groundbreaking for the new building

On October 13, 2006, during the PAMS Alumni and Friends Weekend, the groundbreaking for the new building took place together with the announcement of the SAS contribution. SAS President Jim Goodnight and Executive Vice President John Sall were instrumental in providing the gift and participated in the ceremony. Both attended NC State and remain staunch supporters of PAMS and the university, with Goodnight having served on the faculty of the Department of Statistics and Sall having served on the College's foundation board and currently serving on the university's Board of Trustees. Chancellor Oblinger, NCSU Board of Trustees Chairman Wendell Murphy, Dean Dan Solomon, math department head A. Helminck, and statistics department head S. Pantula also participated in the groundbreaking in front of a crowd of faculty, friends and alumni.

The Mathematics and Statistics Building is located on the site of the old Riddick Stadium and parking lot at 2311 Stinson Drive. The Millennium 3 Design Group provided an initial design for the building. The final design was by the arhictectural firm of Pearce, Brinkley, Cease & Lee consulted on the project. The general contractor was Clancy & Theys.

The Dedication Plaque for SAS Hall
(Photo by Richard Chandler)

The construction of the new mathematics and statistics building was completed in the spring of 2009. The $32 million building was made possible by the Higher Education Bond Referendum of 2000, as well as by gifts from private donors, including a substantial contri- bution from SAS. The dedication for the building occurred on May 1. At the dedication ceremony NC State Chancellor James L. Oblinger announced that the building would be named SAS Hall, in honor of the founders of the Cary, North Carolina-based software company. Over 300 faculty, stu- dents, alumni and friends attended the dedication. Dean Dan Solomon, Loek Helminck, Statistics Head Sastry Pantula, SAS President James Goodnight and SAS Executive Vice President John Sall participated in the ceremony. John Sall made a few remarks:

"At SAS, we believe that it is vital for students in the mathematical and statistical sci- ences to learn in an environment that provides state-of-the-art facilities and instructional technologies. It is also critical that they participate in the kind of collaborative initiatives they'll experience in the work place. That type of environment produces the type of employee and person we want at SAS, and it is the type we want to produce at NC State. That's why we decided to make a significant contribution toward ensuring that this building would become a reality."
SAS Hall contains about 19,000 square feet. There are 10 classrooms, a 250-seat lecture hall and almost 200 offices for faculty, staff and graduate students. In addition there are large commons areas, seminar rooms, meeting rooms, computer labs, a tutorial center and a library. The classrooms and the lecture hall have state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment supplied by Cisco and the NWN corporation. Overhead projectors, computers and DVD players are available for audio-visual pre- sentations. In addition, course materials can be captured for later viewing or streamed to remote locations.

The SAS Hall Spiral

An interesting feature of SAS Hall is the "golden spiral" that starts outside the north entrance of the building, moves past Park Hall, across Stinson Drive and the SAS Hall courtyard into the West wing of SAS, and then back out into the courtyard, finally spiraling into its center as shown in the picture on above. (A golden spiral is associated with a golden rectangle. It is a logarithmic spiral having the property that a change of the polar angle of 90 degrees changes the radius by a factor of the golden mean.)

The Mobile
Just inside the main entrance to SAS Hall is a dramatic four-story atrium. A large colorful mobile hanging from the fourth floor ceiling graces the atrium as shown in the picture to the left.

The mobile was inspired by a work by the artist Barbara Baer that hangs on the SAS campus. The mobile was designed and constructed by a group of students in the NCSU College of Design during the spring of 2009. The students were Samuel Lewis Davis III, Marie Hermans- son, Margaret Jamison, Michelle Ko, Elena "E" Page and Claudia Povenski. The students worked with guidance from Barbara Baer and under the direc- tion and support of Professor Jan-Ru Wan and David Knight of the College of Design.

The architectural firm of Pearce, Brinkley, Cease and Lee (PBC+L) received an Honor Award for the design of SAS Hall. The award was given at the 2009 conference of the of the American Institute of Architecture, South Atlantic Region, held in Greenville, SC. Twenty projects were selected from over 200 entries submitted by AIA South Atlantic Region members. The South Atlantic Region includes North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Park Shops (across the street from SAS Hall) also received an Honor Award. The architectural firm PBC+L received a total of three Honor awards, the most of any firm in the region.

(November, 2009)  

Photo Gallery

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