Harrelson Hall at the Beginning

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Harrelson Hall floorplan, 1959

With demolition completed recently, the landmark Harrelson Hall is at an end.  We wanted to continuing looking back at its earliest days, and we developed the timeline below to show how the building came to be created:

1957

The North Carolina General Assembly authorized construction of a new classroom building on the NC State campus.

Plans were developed for the new classroom building to be circular.

August 1957

The Building and Grounds Committee approved the space between Polk and Williams Halls as the location of the new classroom building. 

February 1959

The Board of Trustees approved the official naming of the new classroom building as Harrelson Hall in honor of Chancellor John W. Harrelson .

Architecture professor Terry Waugh was responsible for Harrelson Hall's circular design.

March 1959

Architectural plans for Harrelson Hall were released to the public.  The architects were Holloway-Reeves and Associates, aided by architecture faculty member E. W. “Terry” Waugh .  Waugh was responsible for the circular design concept, believed to enclose the largest amount of space with the least amount of materials, a necessary requirement during a time of teacher shortages and increasing enrollment.  The pie-slice shapes of interior spaces was thought to make perfect classrooms, some of which could hold 200 students.

1960

Plans for the “round classroom building” were finalized; construction began.  T. A. Loving and Company was the general contractor.  Concrete was a major material used in construction; some parts of the building were precast and others poured in place.

Containing the bathrooms and spiral ramp, the core of the building was constructed first.

The core of the building (including the bathrooms, utilities, and ramp) was constructed first.

1961

Construction was completed.  The university stated the final cost was $2,250,000 (later that was revised down to $1,990,000).  At first the university claimed the building’s 77 classrooms could hold 4,500 students.  This may have been overly optimistic; a few years later, the campus facilities office stated that Harrelson Hall could seat only 3,254 students.  Nevertheless, both numbers are impressive because a total of 7,117 students were enrolled at NC State during the Fall 1961 semester.

November 1961

The public first glimpsed the inside of the building.  Only one floor was completely furnished for an open house on November 4.  At another open house on November 18 as part of Homecoming festivities, 1,200 people filed through the building.  While most comments were favorable, some criticism was noted:  people complained of noisy steam pipes, a lack of bathrooms for women (there was only one), and potential dangers with the ramp.  Some noted that it took significantly longer to walk the ramp than climb the stairs.

Harrelson Hall nearing completion in 1961

The Department of Mathematics was the first unit to move into the building.

February-March 1962

Students had already begun calling the building “The Pie” and having fun with it:  the February 8 Technician reported on a student roller skating down the ramp.  Landscaping was still incomplete, and students and faculty complained of mud and weeds surrounding the building (it would be five more years before the Brickyard was constructed).  Over time, complaints about the building mounted, including noisy air conditioning, curved chalkboards, and disorienting corridors and ramps.

7 March 1962

The building was officially dedicated as part of NC State’s 75th anniversary ceremonies and the 100th anniversary of the Morrill Act creating land-grant colleges and universities.

April 1962

The Building and Grounds Committee recommended funds for landscaping around Harrelson Hall and development of detailed landscaping plans for the open space nearby.