University News

J. Walter Wilson closes following steam leak

Administrators had to relocate about 60 classes and close University Mail Services for the day

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Steam began to surge from a pipe around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, leading to a flood on the first floor of J. Walter Wilson. Facilities Management turned off a hot water valve, affecting several buildings south of Waterman Street.

J. Walter Wilson closed Wednesday after a steam leak, as Facilities Management worked to restore water and clean up damage in the building, wrote Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, in an email to The Herald.

Because of the leak, administrative offices and University Mail Services suspended service for the day, Russell Carey, executive vice president for planning and policy, wrote in a campus-wide email. The building and all services are open again today, Carey wrote in a follow-up campus-wide email Wednesday evening.

Heat likely will not have fully returned to J. Walter Wilson by Thursday, Carey wrote, but he added that, “given the forecast we expect it will be reasonably comfortable.”

Fire alarms began to screech as steam gushed from a pipe in the building Wednesday at 7:30 a.m., Quinn wrote.

As the first floor started to flood, Facilities Management “shut off the high temperature hot water valve to address the issue,” Quinn wrote.

When Facilities Management shut off the valve, buildings south of Waterman Street — including the Sharpe Refectory, research buildings and residence halls — were affected, Quinn wrote. Facilities Management activated supplemental boilers to ensure all of the buildings were able to function normally.

Psychological Services was temporarily relocated to Health Services, and the Registrar’s Office arranged for nearly 60 classes to meet at different buildings on campus, Quinn wrote.

“I was notified of the room change through email by Russell Carey … around 10:30 a.m.,” wrote Qifan Ding, visiting lecturer in Chinese, in an email to The Herald. Ding, whose class was scheduled to meet in J. Walter Wilson, added that the majority of students had no trouble finding out about the change in location and arrived on time to class.

“I’m impressed by the speed with which the people managing this situation came up with classrooms,” wrote Marc Redfield, professor of English and comparative literature, in an email to The Herald. Redfield’s class was also relocated yesterday.

“As for notifying students, they did a really good job,” said Samantha Gross ’15, adding that her whole class showed up to the correct location on time.

“The system affected in J. Walter Wilson is relatively new … while substantial efforts and investments are made to ensure the integrity of our facilities, there is the potential of issues like this arising,” Quinn wrote, adding that the University has a system to regularly assess and maintain facilities.

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