Record rainfall causes significant damage to Northside Hall

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Work continues to repair the upstage area from water damage it received on August 15th and 16th. PHOTO/BRANDON KRUTSCH

Staff Writer

While many students spent late July and early August enjoying the last precious days of summer vacation, officials at IU South Bend were scrambling to repair water damage at several points throughout Northside Hall.

In less than a month, the Louise E. Addicott and Yatish J. Joshi Performance Hall along with the area near the auditorium in Northside were both damaged by water on two separate occasions.

The first leakage occurred on July 23 and 24 where a failure in the roof caused significant damage to the Performance Hall. The damage will keep the hall closed indefinitely.

The second event occurred on August 15 and 16, when South Bend received a record amount of rainfall. That event flooded part of the basement and damaged ceilings around the upper perimeter of the auditorium, as well as the upstage area.

However, the Performance Hall is the area where the damage is the worst.

“Some of the seats have been affected with water absorption,” said Michael Prater, director of facilities management. Prater said, there was also a puddle of water on the stage, and that several of the Performance Hall’s wood panels were damaged after absorbing water. There was also a piano on the stage, with its prognosis currently unknown.

The damage to the Performance Hall was critical for a few reasons: first, the Performance Hall contains a lot of wood, which readily absorbed the water. Secondly, everything in the room is in a specific position in order to make the acoustics optimal. If even a few elements are damaged or out of place, the acoustics of the room are negatively impacted.

This roof failure also impacted two rooms in the Informatics department: the server room, as well as room 164. Both of those rooms have been restored and are functioning again.

Prater said that they have contacted the original contractor who built the Performance Hall, Gibson-Lewis, and are working with them to repair it. Prater said that part of the challenge Gibson-Lewis faces is attempting to make repairs without doing any further damage to the now fragile Performance Hall.

“The upmost importance to us is to restore the quality of the room to when Gibson-Lewis turned it over to us,” Prater said.

A second event of water damage then occurred to other parts of the Northside building on August 15 and 16. During the record rainfall, the area in front of the elevators in the basement flooded when water backed up through floor drains and clean out areas. Prater said there was roughly a half inch of standing water with sediment in the area. Belfor, a restoration company, was brought in and the area is now completely restored.

During the same night, water began infiltrating the upstage area of the auditorium, as well as the area surrounding the auditorium’s upper perimeter. A seal gave way when torrential rainfall pelted it, and water began running down the walls.

The ceiling above a hallway leading to the upstage area collapsed, and several ceiling tiles around the perimeter also succumbed. A section of the floor in the upstage area also had to be removed.

Prater said he went to IUSB that night after receiving a call about the leak. “We were here all night,” Prater said. “We spent six to eight hours that night shoveling up ceiling tiles and sucking up water.”

During the time of the breach, phase one of renovations to Northside Hall were still in progress. The renovations had temporarily weakened the seal on the roof, and Prater stressed that it would not have failed had the renovations not been ongoing. “We were mid-cycle on the install of the new roof,” Prater said.

As compared to the Performance Hall, the other damaged areas of Northside were much easier to repair. The floor tiles and concrete walls did not absorb the water, making it easier to dry. Prater said that he expects phase one of the renovations, as well as the repair work on the damage to be completed within the next three weeks.


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