ASHEBORO (July 21, 2009) - Randolph Community College opened its $1,750,000 Richard Petty Education Center today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and guests including Richard Petty; his wife Lynda; one of his daughters, Sharon; members of the RCC Board of Trustees; Randolph County and Asheboro City officials; and other dignitaries. The building houses the College's Automotive Systems Technology and Autobody Repair programs. It more than doubles the space the programs had in the old buildings.
Platform speakers included Dr. Bob Shackleford, RCC president; Jim Campbell, chair of the RCC Board of Trustees; Harold Holmes, chair of the Randolph County Board of Commissioners; North Carolina Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco; Bonnie Renfro, president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation, Jon Steindorf, project architect with SchenkelSchultz Architecture; and Brandin Wrisley, president of the Sterling Group, the building contractor.
Over 100 community members, student, faculty, and staff gathered for the 9:30 a.m. ceremony held in the automotive shop in the heart of the new building. In introducing the guest of honor, Dr. Shackleford said, "We are pleased to honor our friend, Randolph County's favorite son, with this facility named after him. We pledge to offer in this building an education that is marked by the same drive for excellence and commitment to quality that made Richard Petty 'The King' of his sport."
Petty was given a standing ovation by the crowd and made a few remarks, noting how the automotive industry has grown and the real need for training for automotive and autobody technicians. He downplayed his role in the new building saying, "It took the community to do it* I'm real honored to be able to stand here, not only for me, but to give these students this opportunity."
After the short ceremony, the crowd was invited to tour the facility, and when Petty made himself available for autographs in the lobby, a line quickly formed.
The new Richard Petty Education Center is a pre-engineered steel building by Ceco Building Systems, constructed by the Sterling Building Group. The project designer was SchenkelShultz Architecture. Funding came from several years of annual capital construction appropriations from the Randolph County Board of Commissioners.
It was designed to provide a modern, comfortable, and safe learning atmosphere, while saving costs and energy. The 20,000-square-foot building was created by adding 15,000 square feet to an existing structure, formerly used by Asheboro Body Shop. "We recycled several thousand dollars worth of building," said Cindi Goodwin, director of facilities for RCC.
Goodwin said the energy savers in the building include occupancy sensors, which turn lights off when rooms are not in use and back on when someone enters the room, low flow toilets, automated temperature controls, and zoned heating and air conditioning systems. All of the overhead garage doors are glass, allowing daylight to light the shops. The building has energy efficient lighting and banks of lights are multi-switched so all of the lights in a room don't have to be turned on. Even the vending area is equipped with an automatic vending miser, which manages the consumption of electricity in that area.
New technology in the building includes a downdraft paint booth in Autobody Repair and Nederman Exhaust Rails in both Autobody and Automotive Systems labs, which allow the students to move and attach flexible exhaust tubes to the auto exhaust pipes throughout the lab area. Both Autobody and Automotive Systems classrooms are equipped with electronic data projectors and Smart Boards. Plus, a computer lab has been added with approximately 20 new computers loaded with industry-specific software and wireless capabilities.
The building is decorated with an automotive theme. RCC purchased a custom-designed couch for the lobby, which is made from the rear end of a competition 80s stock car and painted with the STP logo. In addition, Richard Petty has loaned artwork, racing and family memorabilia, as well as allowing RCC's Photography department to reproduce some of his racing photographs for display. Car pieces such as quarter panels and bumpers with the #43 are hung on the walls. There is a five-foot display case to show off items such as Petty's cowboy boots, hats, sunglasses, and trophies. There is a dedication wall with a replica of Petty's head shot inside the building, and Petty autographed the wall.
Instructor desks made of aluminum diamond plate were purchased for the offices of instructors Don Ashley and Dan Moore. Old metal desks were recovered in diamond plate for the adjunct faculty office. The Autobody students custom painted hoods and other decorative items to hang on the walls.
Outside of the building, yard art and benches are featured. A black colonnade at the front of the building is designed as an architectural element to give the building some depth, said Goodwin. It also frames out four display areas where automotive projects can be showcased just outside the entrance.