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Archive for Thursday, February 18, 1993

WESCOE HALL SAFE, REPORT SAYS

February 18, 1993

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There is no danger to the occupants of Wescoe Hall at Kansas University "at this or any foreseeable time in the future" a consulting engineer's report says.

The report, sent to KU officials Wednesday, concurs with officials in the university's facilities planning department, who said last week that Wescoe is not in danger of falling down.

Engineers from the consulting firm of Finney and Turnipseed of Topeka on Friday inspected cracked walls, sloping floors and drooping ceiling tiles at Wescoe.

The engineers said in their report that there is no danger of the building falling because of the shifts.

"We looked primarily at the door openings in partitions and found only insignificant evidence of any long-term creep," the report says.

"Based on these observations and our study of the elevations of the first floor on grade, it is our opinion that essentially all of the movement is due to `heaving' of the soil below the first floor slab on grade.

"We think that it is very important that we get enough soil information that we can resolve at least the main cause of the movement," the report says.

Shawn McGarity, design engineer, and Dick Finney, president of the consulting firm, inspected the building and sent the report to Jim Modig, campus director of facilities planning.

The floor slab under Wescoe's southeast corner apparently has been rising for years, said Mike Richardson, director of facilities operations.

The rising floor has caused the internal free-standing walls and suspended ceilings to shift, which has sparked concern from staff and faculty working in the building.

Officials plan to conduct tests on the soils under the foundation, but will wait until spring break to cut holes in the slab.

Saturated clay fill could be causing the foundation problem, because if the clay has absorbed moisture it will expand and cause the floor to rise, Richardson said.

KU has monitored the building's movement since 1985 and has recorded movement of .02 of a foot, he said.

Construction of th 180,000 square-foot building began in May 1971 and was completed by January 1974. Wescoe houses 44 classrooms, two large lecture halls, the language laboratories and numerous faculty and staff offices.

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