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Building Reopens after Flood, Lectures Relocated This Week


Gabor Csanyi--The Tech
The Campus Police are investigating whether a urinal was ripped from the wall of a bathroom in Building 36. Water damage to Building 34 forced classes to relocate to other facilities.

By Aileen Tang
staff reporter

Repairs are continuing in Building 34 after a flood Wednesday caused considerable water damage to Edgerton Hall (34-101)and the building's third floor classrooms.

Two of the three elevator shafts damaged by the flood went back into service last Friday. All facilities in the building except for Edgerton Hall and the third floor classrooms were also available for use on Friday.

The third floor classrooms in Building 34 were reopened on Monday, but 34-101 remains closed. No monetary estimate of the damage is yet available.

"Everything has been cleaned up," said Stephen P. Miscowski, manager of repair and maintenance for Physical Plant. "[We're] currently working on the lighting system and the replacement of circuit breakers in electric panels in the lecture hall."

The flood was caused by a damaged urinal pipe in the third floor men's rest room. The Campus Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

It could be either "some structural failure or deliberate active vandalism,"said Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin. "We may never know the answer to this, but we will try to find out."

Reopening date of 34-101 unclear

The lectures scheduled for 34-101 have been moved elsewhere, at least through Wednesday, Miscowski said. Physical Plant is currently working on restoring the lecture hall's lighting system and replacing the circuit-breakers in the electric panels, he said.

"We're not one hundred percent sure" when the hall will reopen, Miscowski said. "The schedule depends on the availability of parts." He acknowledged the possibility of a delay past Thursday.

Replacement panels that arrived yesterday "will bring 34-101 up to an acceptable level,"said Mary Callahan, co-director of academic services.

As a contingency plan, academic services has reserved spaces for all of next week's classes in case they are needed, said Callahan. "We'll be in good position to provide adequate space for all classes," she said.

Although the room may be usable by today, some of the more advanced equipment may not have been reinstalled. As a result, the return of classes requiring multimedia facilities, such as Computer Systems Engineering (6.033), may be delayed.

Although academic services are "not in position to make a commitment,"Callahan said, "we will work with faculty to make sure that their needs are met."

Faculty, students react to incident

Susan E. Guralnik, the administrative officer for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science said that the department was weathering the problems well.

"Thanks to real efficiency by the registrar's office, all classes have been relocated under a condensed time frame,"she said. "People were cooperative and took [the inconveniences] in good spirit."

Quantitative Physiology (6.022J) was one of the two 9:30 a.m. classes that were unable to be relocated in time. Professor of Mechanical Engineering Roger D. Kamm SM '77, who teaches the course, said that the class was not cancelled as a result of the problem.

"I just hunted down the hall to find an empty classroom, although at least one of the students never found us," he said.

6.033 was one of several classes that were relocated to the Wong Auditorium (E51-115) this week. "I am impressed about how the registrar handled [the situation]," said Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science M. Frans Kaashoek, who teaches the course.

"Things are working out pretty smoothly," Kaashoek said. He called the Wong Auditorium "a nice lecture hall," but noted that "having six instead of nine black boards requires some redesigning of the [lecture]. But these are minor problems that can be easily adjusted."

Some expressed irritation at the prospect of traveling to Building E51, but others were more sanguine. "As long as the professor understands, it's not that bad,"said one student.

Vandalism hard to prevent

Prevention of future incidents and disaster control could be difficult to plan. "Because piping is throughout all ceilings and all buildings, when a toilet is pulled off the wall, there's no limitation on [what may happen]," Miscowski pointed out.

"Avoiding vandalism is almost impossible without turning the Institute into a fortress,"said Guralnik.

However, there are things MIT can do, she said. "Engineering changes [such as] alarms and pressure sensitive valves to detect damages as soon as they happen could be a reasonable approach."