April water leaks add to Whipple Fine Arts Center rehabilitation project

Published by J.R. Williams on

The Whipple Fine Arts Center sustained water damage that was caused from a failed hot water valve.
Photo provided by The Mainstream

April water leaks add to Whipple Fine Arts Center rehabilitation project

The Whipple Fine Arts building has been upgraded to fix several recent water leaks with plans developed to address nearly $2 million in seismic updates.

In the wake of winter term’s landslip on UCC’s campus, faculty arrived to work at the Whipple Fine Arts center early last month, to find water damage from two burst water pipes. 

The water leaks caused significant damage to the acoustic tiles, sheetrock, and lighting fixtures
Photo provided by The Mainstream

Security Officer Harvey Day reported he found the lobby full of water and the ceiling collapsing.  Jess Miller and two maintenance personnel identified a failed hot water valve and sealed the leak before working to cleaning up the debris.  Water had flooded the lower level and had to be extracted. 

Miller said in an email, “this damage seems to have happened earlier in the weekend. It had caused significant damage to the lighting fixtures, sheetrock and acoustic tiles. My assessment of this project would be to remove all sheetrock in the affected area that received water damage and to replace light fixtures. There are a couple complications to this process as lighting fixtures are obsolete and acoustic tile cannot be matched any longer.”

UCC recently requested bids for the ceiling repair through Orpin.com. For the seismic upgrade, the college wanted the Whipple building to be compliant with the current code related to seismic structure.   UCC hired ZCS Engineering Architecture to assess and report damage and repair requirements as well as provide an estimated cost for repair. 

ZCS’s initial seismic evaluation revealed damage to mostly superficial structures within the walls where the pipes were located. There is some damage to be addressed for at least one load bearing beam, but ZCS deemed the building safe to occupy and repairs are recommended but not necessarily required beyond code guidelines, according to UCC.

For all suggested repairs and updating of the Whipple Fine Arts Center, the cost will come to nearly $2 million.
Photo provided by The Mainstream

To help UCC understand the magnitude of the Whipple seismic project funding for the rehabilitation of the building, ZCS developed a preliminary construction cost estimate. ZCS suggested that repairs and rehabilitation for the Whipple Center will total $1,800,630 including all soft costs associated with architecture and engineering, permitting and District Project Management.

In addition to the structural basics in need of redress, storage racks, cabinets and bookshelves need to be reinstalled, upgraded or added during the restoration. Cost includes labor as well as materials, licensing, insurance and more. The team tasked with this project are also collaborating to revise plans to reduce rehabilitation timeline and cost.

“Based on our visual observations, we find the structure to be in good condition and generally safe for occupancy,” the ZCS report said. “No significant damage to the existing structural system was discovered. Given the current condition of the structure, the current code section on existing buildings does not mandate that upgrades are required unless the building is scheduled for repairs, alterations, additions, or change in occupancy. However, it is our understanding the goal of the College is to continue utilizing the existing building as an arts building, and the College wants the seismic structural system to be compliant with the current code.” 

The approximately 21,800 square foot Fine Arts and Classroom Building was built in 1977 and consists of mostly wood materials and concrete foundation.  The Whipple Fine Arts center is utilized for theater performances, art displays, concerts, graduations, dance recitals and more.  The building is available for use by the extended community as well as UCC related events.

For more information about the seismic upgrade, visit UCC’s website.

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