Branch Hall is undergoing a major repair and rehabilitation project according to Tim Carpenter, ABAC’s project manager.
The project started soon after Thanksgiving. It was originally intended to last 4 to 6 weeks, and be finished before students came back for classes this spring.
The ABAC team initially knew there was a problem because the brick was bowing (expanding and moving outward or inward). When inspected, it was discovered that the border was cracked, so the parapet brick needed replacing.
After another inspection, it was determined that moisture had seeped in between the brick and the masonry block. This is an issue because the brick is held onto the building through shelving (made of metal brick ties and angle irons) and the moisture has eroded the shelving over the years.
Carpenter assures students that the building is structurally fine to be in, but the outside brick needs to be repaired.
The first step was to demolish the brick, then put up a masonry block, moisture barrier, and new brick ties and shelving for the brick to sit on.
The construction crew started with the east and west end. When they’re finished, they’ll start on the south end.
Interestingly enough, the north side of the building didn’t have moisture issues because the overhang prevented moisture from getting in between the brick and masonry block.
Aside from the unexpected need to expand the project, another issue the construction has run into has been noise. Classes taking place in the Nickelodeon and the former Courtroom had to be moved to Howard Auditorium and Town Hall, respectively, due to demolition noise.
With 10 to 12 crew members laying down brick, the project is due to be done by the end of April.
When construction is complete, the building is going to be used in-part for “swing space” when Chambliss is renovated.
According to Carpenter, renovations on Chambliss will start in about a year from now.
At that time, labs in Chambliss will temporarily be moved to the Nickelodeon and the old bookstore.