CRASHING DOWN

 

 Students walking through campus Sunday afternoon might have noticed some interesting activity outside the Wellness Center, where pieces of the overhang of the Wellness Center came crashing to the ground. 

On April 6 at approximately 2 p.m. large pieces of soffit material fell from the overhang of the Wellness Center. UPD was called in, and immediately blocked off the area for safety purposes, said Marysz Rames, vice president of student affairs. Facilities and Services were called in to assess the damage. 

The Wellness Center remained open throughout the afternoon, however due to safety reasons, the first two rows of machines near the windows and the upstairs track were blocked off in case any loose materials were blown into the windows, resulting in broken glass. No further damage was done to the building following the initial collapse. 

The damage was assessed on Monday, April 8 and it has been concluded that the likely cause of the collapse was an air pocket between the materials and the roof. Water leaked into the air pocket, and consequently froze over the winter. With the warmer temperatures, and melting snow and ice all over campus, the water trapped in the overhang also melted. The weight of the condensation caused the soffit materials to collapse suddenly said Jeff Huskey, Wellness Center Director. 

“It’s just something from the original construction and in hindsight should have been vented, but it was not bad craftsmanship,” Huskey said. The materials fell vertically and did not cause any other structural damage. 

The damage to the awning was cosmetic and Facilities and Services assessed a similar awning to find no signs of condensation or damage. “We knew of no damage or any problems, so this is completely out of the blue. It’s really quite a mystery,” said Les Olive, senior architect/engineer with Facilities and Services. 

Facilities and Services removed the remaining pieces of soffit materials, and chances are the rest of the materials will be taken down once a decision is made as to a solution of the problem. “The big deal is just to make sure it’s safe,” Olive said. 

Engineers will look at the situation next, and decide on the best way to proceed. Bids and quotes will be taken to figure out the next course of action in terms of repairs. To prevent the 

 

 same issue arising again, an alternate solution will have to be made Huskey said. 

Now that the debris has been cleaned up, and the area is safe, there are no immediate plans to begin construction on a fix. “I’d be surprised if it was done by the end of the school year,” Huskey said. The solution to the problem will most likely be applied to other areas of the Wellness Center as well, such as the other awning made with similar materials. 

The cost of the fix is unknown at this time, and the total cost will determine where the funding will come from, and whether or not an insurance claim is made. “The university does have insurance on buildings such as the Wellness Center … we’ll have to actually get the price and decide whether or not we want to make a claim,” Huskey said. There is a $50,000 deductible through the insurance, and the cost would have to highly exceed that in order to file a claim, otherwise the cost will come out of pocket. The insurance on buildings at the university is more for catastrophic situations, for example having to level a building due to extreme weather Rames said. 

“The good news is that it was a Sunday, and no one was outside so no one was hurt,” Huskey said. “… it didn’t impact the operation of the building … we’ll try to get it patched up and looking better.”