Forest Resources Building Renovation

Director Mike Messina provides this building update:

Our building is falling up!  Many of you have heard that we have an issue with the first floor and the basement floor in the Forest Resources Building.  Multiple rumors around campus and beyond concerning our building sinking or being unsound are wrong, like rumors so often are. 

Our building is not sinking, but instead the floors are rising.  The first floor under the Meadow Wing and the basement floor under the Bigler Wing were poured on a fill that contained pyrite, unknown to all parties involved in the construction.  That pyrite proceeded to do what pyrite does when exposed to oxygen and moisture --  it produced “acid mine drainage.”  More to the point, the sulfur in the pyrite oxidized to form sulfuric acid, which then converted the calcium carbonate in the fill to calcium sulfate, otherwise known as gypsum.  This conversion caused the fill to swell, and since it could not swell down or out, it swelled up, thereby lifting the floors above it. 

Survey measurements showed that the floor rose well over one inch in most places, thereby cracking drywall, making it impossible to open interior doors, and so forth.  The floors are independent of the remainder of the building, so the building is sound but the floors and fill beneath them must be replaced. 

The Meadow Wing floor fix began in late December 2010, and will be completed in August 2011.  The entire first floor had to be gutted and the floor and fill removed, so we are teaching all of our courses this spring in other buildings on campus.  The rest of our building remains usable during this fix.  The decision about the Bigler Wing basement must still be made;  engineering tests are being conducted there this spring. 

I have been assured by the original architects who are contributing to the repair effort that our building will be returned to its original splendor, including all that beautiful black cherry paneling on the first floor.

So, depending upon when you next visit our building, you may either be shocked at how different it looks during this fix, or unable to tell the difference between new and “renewed.”

1st Floor Corridor

First floor before ... and hopefully, after

1st Floor Repair

First floor with interior walls gone

1st Floor Backfill

View of "badly behaving" backfill

Outside Construction Activity

Outside view of construction area