George Washington University Science and Engineering Hall Reopens

Meetings with SEH researchers and faculty concerning damage and repairs continue following sprinkler line break.

February 17, 2016

By Brittney Dunkins

The George Washington University Science and Engineering Hall reopened Tuesday following a sprinkler line break last week on the unoccupied seventh floor that released thousands of gallons of water into the building.

All areas of the building are open for access, but repairs will continue after hours in areas of the building that require attention.

Deputy Provost Terry Murphy met Tuesday with groups of faculty to begin the process of assessing damage to research and teaching labs that saw significant damage from flooding.  Labs assessed to have the most damage are mostly located on the fifth and sixth floors, but some labs and other areas located on the basement level through the fourth floors sustained water damage

Limited access to SEH has been available to researchers and faculty with offices and labs in the building since last Wednesday.

“The academic research being performed by faculty in SEH is fundamental to the university’s research and teaching mission,” Interim Provost Forrest Maltzman said during an address to the Faculty Senate Friday afternoon.

“In the coming days and weeks, the university will continue to work with faculty to determine how the water intrusion has affected their research and what efforts need to be made to restore equipment and labs so that research may continue.”

SEH was closed last Tuesday morning after students, faculty and staff were evacuated. An initial assessment of the building confirmed damage particularly in the central areas of the building on several floors near the main stairs and elevators and in research areas on the fifth and sixth floors. Most other areas sustained limited to no damage.

Core systems in the building, including fire and electrical systems, are currently operational. Until further notice, elevator service will be available only to those with mobility challenges and those who are moving supplies and furniture. An attendant will manually operate the elevators between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

All other individuals should use the staircase to access the basement level through the sixth floor of the building.

The damaged standpipe was traced to a construction crew working on the building’s life safety system. Clark Construction took the lead on repairs, and an outside company specializing in flood damage was called in Tuesday afternoon.

To date, repair efforts have included extensive water removal work in concentrated areas, water extraction from all floors and drywall repair. Fans remain in restricted areas throughout the building to assist in the drying process.

The Office of Risk Management continues to gather information in consultation with insurance providers. Repair timelines and the cost of the recovery efforts are expected to vary based on the damage assessments in specific areas.