Science and Engineering Hall Remains Closed Through Monday

Water damage assessment and repairs continue following sprinkler line break.

February 12, 2016

By Brittney Dunkins

The George Washington University Science and Engineering Hall remains closed through Monday with limited access following a sprinkler line break Tuesday morning on the unoccupied seventh floor that released thousands of gallons of water into 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. The crew will continue restoration and repair through the weekend.

An update regarding the building’s status is scheduled for Monday.

Interim Provost Forrest Maltzman addressed the closure of SEH during the Faculty Senate meeting Friday afternoon.

“The academic research being performed by faculty in SEH is fundamental to the university’s research and teaching mission and—understandably—there may be delays and effects on some of the research being conducted within the labs,” Dr. Maltzman said.

“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 and teaching may continue.”   

The university reacted swiftly Tuesday morning, evacuating students, faculty and staff and closing the building. An initial assessment 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.

Some of the building’s core systems, such as the elevators, are included in the affected areas. The fire alarm system was restored on Wednesday, but the elevators are inoperable while repairs continue.

Limited access to SEH was granted Wednesday to researchers and faculty with offices and labs in the building. Notified researchers and faculty will continue to have limited access through the weekend.

In large part, classes held in SEH have been relocated to other buildings on campus or have been held online as repairs continue. The School of Engineering and Applied Science undergraduate advising office has been temporarily moved to Tompkins Hall.

A limited number of biology and chemistry classes were held Thursday and Friday in the basement and second floor of SEH because those spaces were not affected by water damage. Students should look to their professors for updates on class locations.

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

Looking ahead, Dr. Maltzman said that the university would continue to work with faculty and researchers to assess any damage to ongoing research projects and equipment.

The Office of Risk Management also will be working 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.