Rainwater leaks add to construction woes

After a night of heavy rains, the roof of the Faculty Administration Office Building (FAO), which has been under construction since Jan. 14, began leaking into second floor offices.

Dr. Dawood Sultan of Africana Studies arrived Thursday morning to find his office door opened and many of his belongings moved to avoid water damage. While Sultan’s office was only one of a few offices that experienced significant leaks, Yvonne K. Eisenhart praised the quick response from physical plant.

“The roofing company and physical plant responded immediately and have been working to stop the leak all day,” Eisenhart said.

FAO staff has described a grey haze floating through hallways and the smell of gasoline lingering in the air as workers strip the old coal-based tar roofing from the building’s structure. With most of the construction being done during the day, faculty members are complaining about the fumes and breathing difficulties.

“I wish they’d stop putting fumes in our hallways,” said Nancy Keen, an office manager in the philosophy department. “First it was smoke, now it smells like exhaust.”

Administrators and professors working in FAO have been complaining about the condition of the building for years. Built in 1969, FAO is one of the oldest buildings on campus. A study completed in 2005 revealed that 100 percent of the building’s roof needed to be replaced, said Siva Prakash, associate director of physical plant.

“We chose to do the project in January and February because they are the driest months of the year,” said Prakash.

While concern over the fumes in the hallways of FAO is growing, Prakash said physical plant is constantly monitoring the air quality.

“We have to ventilate the building with outside air to maintain air quality,” he said. “Sometimes the wind changes and the smell from construction is forced into the building.”

While physical plant monitors air quality during all projects, Prakash said that if needed, the Division of Environmental Health and Safety would be brought in to oversee operations and ensure a safe environment for those working near the construction.

The ongoing issues in FAO are just some of the typical moans of a building built in the ’60s, said Roger Ariew, department chair of philosophy.

Those working in FAO have struggled with noise pollution as well. The constant pounding of construction can be heard all the way to the basement.

“The construction is really distracting,” said Sarah Meyers, staff assistant in the Institute for Instructional Research and Practice.

Although the general consensus of FAO staff was that of frustration, many were relieved upon learning that the University had allocated the funds to refinish the roof.

With a budget of $300,000, physical plant has contracted Quality Roofing of Florida Inc. for the project. According to a schedule posted in the building, construction will be divided into seven phases, each lasting a little less than a week. The project is expected to be completed by Feb. 27.

With additional reporting by Karisa Wodz.