Slow Response to On-Campus Leaks
School Ceilings Still In Need of Repair
September 22, 2006 2:28 PM
For a brief moment, an Associated Students meeting earlier this month was disrupted. Water was dripping from the Rosa Parks Conference Room ceiling onto the carpet.
Board members stopped what they were doing, looked up and then casually continued on with business.
Plans are underway to once-and-for-all fix the Cesar Chavez Student Center water leaks that have plagued the building for 16 years and are currently hindering a project to renovate a storeroom in the center and convert it into a computer lab for students.
The student center is planning to spend at least $300,000 to have the leaks repaired.
“It’s not a good idea to have a computer lab where water is leaking into the room,” said Guy Dalpe, the managing director of the student center.
That’s one reason the Student Center Governing Board commissioned the engineering firm Allana, Buick and Bers last April to pinpoint the leaks and make recommendations on how they could be repaired and how much it might cost.
The other reason, said Dalpe, is the last two rainy seasons have emphasized that the leaks are only getting worse.
But you don’t have to tell associate general manager at the SFSU Bookstore, Brian Zimmerman that. When it rains, water trickles down steel beams near the bookstore’s skylights and he had to put down a bucket where water has already damaged the carpet.
“Let me put it like this,” Zimmerman said. “I have been here since 1988 and leaks have always been a problem.”
In one area of the bookstore, water used to drip down from the ceiling and ruin merchandise, Zimmerman said. Eventually the leaks were patched, according to Zimmerman, but quarter-sized rust spots remain where the leaks once were.
In June, Allana, Buick and Bers finished its investigation and presented a report to the SCGB outlining options for repair. It identified two major points where water is entering the center: the bookstore’s skylight and an area under the concrete seating on the building’s viewing tower.
The vacant storeroom, which the SCGB wants to convert into a student computer lab, lies directly beneath the concrete seating leaks on the roof.
Even so, the concrete seat leak on the viewing tower, also known as the Pyramid One segment of the building, is not a surprise to Dalpe or Tony Hayward, the student center’s on-site engineer.
About six years ago, attempts were made to fix the roof leak by resealing segments of the concrete seats. At first it seemed to fix the problem, Dalpe said, but over time the leaks just came back profusely.
Then, Dalpe said, they didn't realize the leak was a much deeper structural problem than just the surface of the concrete seat roof.
“We started to get the idea that the problem was under the seating,” Dalpe said.
Completing the conversion of the vacant storeroom into a computer lab is a top priority for the governing board this semester, said Mirishae McDonald, board member and chair of the Master Plan Committee.
But to get it done, she said, they first have to fix the water leaks and work may not begin until this winter.
Over the summer the SCGB approved the report’s recommendations and is currently waiting on more detailed specifications so they can put the project up for public bidding. Dalpe expects them in two months.
In the meantime, Hayward said the leaks do not pose a safety hazard and, at least for the skylight leak, plans on laying down plastic when it rains.
Designed by architect Paffard Keatinge Clay and built in 1975, the student center houses more than 20 student organizations, offices and food vendors. Hayward blames the age of the building for the leaks.
“It’s a 30-year-old building, the technology is old,” Hayward said. “It’s going to be a big project.”
The SCGB has already set aside funds for the project out of its 2006-2007 operating budget. Dalpe said there will not be an increase in student center registration fees for students to pay for the project.
McDonald said when the work does begin, the day-to-day operations of the student center will continue as normal.
To fix the roof leaks, though, all of the concrete seats will have to be removed Dalpe said, meaning it is likely the viewing tower will be off-limits to students.
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