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Renovations to Science Research Building halt due to water damage

Renovations to Science Research Building halt due to water damage

Renovations to Science Research Building halt due to water damage
September 04
18:28 2014

Rhiannon Saegert / Senior Staff Writer

Renovation plans for UNT’s Science Research Building have been put on hold due to water damage discovered in the building’s facade during demolition.

The water damage led to the bricks around and above the building’s north entrance falling out of place and rusted the metal supporting the overhang above the doorframe. The remaining bricks were removed and the area was patched with cement for the time being.

“Those plans were cancelled and basically will wait until we see where the research program wants to go with future research development,” said David Reynolds, associate vice president of facilities.

The Science Research Building was completed in 1983. Over time, the building has been used less and less due to mechanical and electrical problems, safety concerns and a poor Internet connection. Only the second floor is in regular use now.

“It’s got a much smaller footprint because they had actually started the renovation project,” Reynolds said. “They’d emptied out the first floor. They had not emptied out the second floor and that’s why they’ve still got research teams in the second floor.”

When construction crews began renovating, they discovered the water damage. He said the damage does not threaten the stability of the building and only affects the outer facade and doorway.

“It’s the envelope problem,” said James Maguire, vice chancellor for administrative services. “The exterior skin of the building needs to be fixed.”

He said water most likely accumulated behind the outer envelope on the building’s north side over time.

“It appears there was some breakdown of the waterproofing system that didn’t become apparent immediately, and only did when we began demolition work,” Maguire said.

Speech and hearing sciences graduate student Dan Ledee has worked in the building as a research assistant for more than a year. He said the most common issues assistants run into are spotty Internet and outdated equipment.

He said the first floor is completely out of use and “spooky.”

“It’s a wasteland down there,” he said. “Sometimes we go down there looking for old equipment people have left behind in hopes of salvaging it. There’s no windows. You just go through with a flashlight.

He said the original plans to renovate the second floor labs would have given researchers more open space instead of the smaller, contained labs they use now.

“Labs are supposed to be open to facilitate cross-collaboration so everyone can help solve other people’s problems, but instead we have these little separate areas,” he said.

Designs for the renovated building will be completed this fall, and construction is scheduled to begin again in January 2016.

Featured Photo: The Science Research Building on the corner of Mulberry Street and S. Avenue B has been fenced up since 2012 though researchers still work on the second floor. Photo by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

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