NCSSM-Morganton master plan

This rendering shows the master plan for the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Morganton campus.

The western campus of the state School of Science and Mathematics has hit another milestone in preparation of construction.

The school announced late last week it has hired Barnhill Contracting Company as the construction manager at risk for the western campus. A manager at risk typically is hired for most government projects and ensures it stays on schedule and budget.

The company will help the school with the review and management of the design and construction of the western campus, according to a release from the school.

“Our team at Barnhill Contracting Company is honored and excited to partner with the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and Duda|Paine Architects on this historic opportunity to build a new campus in Morganton,” Marty Moser, senior vice president at Barnhill Contracting Company, said in the release. “This is truly a significant addition to the UNC System and will benefit all the citizens in the state of North Carolina.”

The company was one of eight that applied for the job. A recommendation to hire Barnhill was made to the school’s board of trustees and the board unanimously approved them during its Dec. 7 meeting, the release said.

Kevin Baxter, director of western campus planning and project management, said construction on the western campus is expected to start in August 2019. But pre-construction work will start in early 2018, he said.

The pre-construction work will include engaging and identifying subcontractors for the project, Baxter said.

Baxter said the specific sequencing of the construction process is something school officials will be working out over the next year. 

“We do not yet have that information finalized as our recently hired CM at risk firm is a key participant that will inform that work,” Baxter said in an email to The News Herald.

The western school of science and math will be located on the eastern ridge of the state School for the Deaf campus.

The school initially will be constructed to hold 300 students, with student admission in the first year being 150 and another 150 students admitted in the second year.

The site plan for the campus calls for three buildings that were once part of NCSD to be repurposed for NCSSM.

Goodwin Hall will be renovated and used as the administration building/main hall. It will be at the center of the campus.

The old barn that was on the NCSD campus will be reused as a place for student and community events. The barn would be able to seat around 400 people and would include a kitchen and mezzanine.

Up from the barn will be two new 150-bed dorm buildings — one for males and one for females.

Joiner Hall that originally was built for NCSD will be renovated and used for music and arts programs.

Across from Joiner Hall will be a new academics building. Across from Goodwin Hall and flanking each side will be two new buildings, with one that will serve as a student commons, library and dining hall. The other building will be used for fitness and wellness, according to the master site plan.

The plan also shows a phase II of the campus in case the decision is made in the future to expand the campus for more students. Phase II calls for two more dorm buildings, two new academic buildings and a new place for gatherings. The campus also will include green spaces.

The announcement of the manager at risk follows the approval in September of the campus site master plan and educational program plan for the western campus.

“Now is when we really start to see the campus take shape,” Tom Williams, chair of the NCSSM Board of Trustees, said in a release. “By combining several existing structures on the eastern ridge of the NC School for the Deaf with new construction, we will be able to preserve much of the history of the site, while also ensuring our students and staff have access to cutting-edge academic, lab, and multipurpose spaces as well as a healthy living-learning environment.”

Baxter said in school’s announcement release that the next phase of planning will include the launch of schematic design and the rollout of an ambitious period of educational program planning.

“We are so excited to move forward with the pre-construction phase of this project ," NCSSM Chancellor Todd Roberts said in the release . " With the help of Barnhill and the team at Duda|Paine, we know that this new campus will embody the best of what NCSSM represents and create ever more opportunities for innovation, exploration, and hands-on learning for North Carolina students.

NCSSM-Morganton will open in 2021 with an initial enrollment of 150 juniors, growing to the full complement of 300 students when the second class enrolls in 2022.

Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at or at 828-432-8946.

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