August 25, 2003

Clairmont undergoes remedial work

By Nancy Seideman

Four Clairmont Campus housing facilities underwent remedial construction this summer to eliminate and prevent water penetration.

The project entailed resealing the exterior to prevent water penetration, replacing sheetrock in the affected interior walls and refitting window sills to prevent water leakage. Work on the four undergraduate buildings, which include 600 beds, has been completed with the exception of an exterior coating which currently is being applied. Letters regarding the construction activities were sent to Clairmont residents in early summer, and an update was published in the June 23 Emory Report.

The four buildings that house about 500 graduate students do not appear to have the level of water penetration experienced in the undergraduate complex. Because the repair process would have been too disruptive to conduct in the occupied graduate apartment buildings this summer, plans are being developed to repair those units next summer.

However, random testing of air and moisture levels in vacant graduate apartments conducted this summer confirms that the units are safe to occupy. Periodic inspections will be conducted of all graduate apartments this academic year to make sure that remains the case. Graduate students living at the Clairmont Campus received a letter on Aug. 13 updating them of the situation.

Last fall, when four students reported finding mold on their apartment walls, Facilities Management (FM) cleaned the walls with bleach, which appeared to resolve the issue. In the spring semester, other students reported problems, and FM began looking at structural issues.

“We decided to take a closer look at what was causing the situation,” said Capital Program Manager Hector Morales. “We did some additional testing and found extensive moisture-penetration in the interior cavities of some of the walls in the undergraduate facility. At that point we realized we had construction flaws that had to be addressed before they got worse.”

The contractor and the architect refused to take appropriate action, so Emory moved forward independently to undertake a comprehensive remedial project to assure the safety of the residents.

“Fortunately the buildings just opened, and we caught this problem in its earliest stages before it became a health concern,” said Environmental Health and Safety Officer Mike Gladel, who has advised FM throughout the project.

On July 21 Emory filed suit in federal court against facility contractor Trammell-Crow and architect Niles Bolton Associates for failing to comply with their contract in a number of respects, including violation of certain codes and laws, insulation and ventilation deficiencies, humidity problems, water penetration through walls and windows, and moisture problems in a number of the units.