Swem springs a leak

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September 6, 2012

11:59 PM

The crane outside of Earl Gregg Swem Library does not mark another construction site on campus, but an attempt to fix leaks that have dripped into the Special Collections and other library areas for years.

The College of William and Mary built the 100,000-square-foot addition to house the Special Collections in 2004. Since then, employees have noticed multiple leaks in Special Collections, Pavilion A and B and especially on the second floor in the employee offices.

“We were under a construction contract warranty with the builder [to fix any problems], but when the leaks continued to occur, we decided to take a more in-depth look and develop a corrective plan,” Vice President of Administration Anna Martin said.

The investigation revealed that the cause of the leak was internal. The waterproofing membrane designed to seal the building off from water was defective, which turned out to be a bigger and more expensive problem than expected.

The total cost of construction will come in at over $1 million, taken from the College’s Maintenance Reserve. The fund contains state money intended specifically for maintenance problems.

“The reason the construction was so expensive is because they have to lift the concrete blocks that are part of the roof system off before they can reach the problem,” Martin said.

The crane presently blocking the sidewalk behind Millington Hall is part of this construction process. The College initially planned construction when classes were not in session, but the rain in Williamsburg this summer delayed construction by a few weeks.

Swem also underwent extensive replacements beyond the waterproofing — windows, drywall, insulation and carpets on the upper level all had to be replaced due to extensive water damage from the leak.

“Most of the work was planned to be completed Aug. 31, so now it will still be finishing into September and possibly October. We can’t go up to the second floor at all, which is where the employee offices are,” Amy Schindler, university archivist and acting director of special collections, said. “Right now, our staff are using the conference rooms as offices, so we don’t have room for as many volunteers or even classes.”

Swem plans to finish the project within one week, so Special Collections staff members should have their office spaces back as the academic year truly gets underway. If all goes well, Swem will not undergo any more construction until next summer.

“We were hoping to be done before classes, but something always comes up to delay construction,” Schindler said. “Things have gone fairly well, all things considered, but we are really looking forward to things being completed and having students and alma mater volunteers back in here.”

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  • Bailey Kirkpatrick

Senior staff writer Bailey Kirkpatrick '15 is an international relations major from Ashburn, Virginia. She was previously Associate Variety Editor and Associate News Editor.

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