MU residence halls added to regular inspection cycle

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 | 5:29 p.m. CDT; updated 7:07 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 11, 2014

COLUMBIA — MU's auxiliary buildings — residence halls, dining halls and student unions — will be subject to regularly scheduled building assessments by an outside firm, the university has decided.

These buildings will be added to a cycle of "facilities condition assessments," which are done every year by a Georgia firm called ISES Corp., MU Campus Facilities Manager of Communications Karlan Seville said in an email Wednesday.

Details on when the first group of auxiliary buildings will be assessed are still being worked out. 

The firm has inspected MU's educational and general buildings since 2001, Seville said. An architect and engineer from ISES look at about 20 percent of educational and general space every year, completing the entire campus every five years.

Residence halls, dining halls and other auxiliary buildings had not been included in those assessments.

"This puts every building on a regular inspection cycle," MU spokesman Christian Basi said.

The university decided in early March to include the auxiliary buildings in ISES assessments.

The building assessments are a way to "determine what needs to be renewed, what needs to be repaired, and what needs to be altered," according to ISES' website.

"The facility condition inspection is designed to help the owner identify what his long-term financial requirements are," said Dan Harrison, executive vice president of ISES. "It's not a structural analysis of a building."

MU buildings are not subject to regularly scheduled structural inspections, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Harrison said that if a structural issue is observed during the assessment, ISES would recommend that a structural engineer come take a closer look. Formal structural inspections are more in-depth and expensive than the facility condition analyses done by ISES, he said. 

Regular structural inspections of buildings are not a common practice, said Frankie Minor, director of Residential Life.

"Structural inspections are done at the time when the certificate of occupancy is issued," he said. After that, the department relies on observations by occupants or staff, who are in the buildings daily, to determine if a more detailed inspection is necessary.

Residence halls and other auxiliary buildings have been assessed by various outside firms in the past, just not as part of the five-year cycle.

Except for Laws, Lathrop and Jones halls, which are slated for replacement, all of MU's residence halls have been rebuilt or renovated within the past five to 10 years. Their conditions have been well-documented, Minor said in an email, with ISES assessments completed in 2009 and 2013.

Formal inspections of various other auxiliary buildings were done during the following years:

  • 2000: The condition of MU's 19 residence halls were assessed as part of the Residential Life Master Plan, which sought to create more space for a projected surge in enrollment, according to the Department of Residential Life's website. Further assessments took place in 2005 and 2012 as the plan was updated.
  • 2007: MU hired Mackey Mitchell Architects to assess the University Student Apartments — its four graduate and family housing complexes — as part of the Graduate and Family Housing Master Plan. The goal was to assess the conditions of the buildings and find out what issues needed correcting, according to the plan.
  • 2013: ISES completed facilities conditions assessments for the MU Student Center, Memorial Student Union, A.P. Green Chapel and the MU bookstore distribution warehouse on Rock Quarry Road, said Tracy Schultz, assistant director of student support services. 
  • 2014: MU hired the engineering firm Trabue, Hansen and Hinshaw Inc. to do structural and life safety inspections of every campus building in the wake of the walkway collapse at the University Village apartment complex in February in which Columbia firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt died. Britt's family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the university.

Wolpers Hall, Johnston Hall and the new hall being built south of Discovery and Responsibility halls will receive ISES analyses in the 2015 fall semester, said Harriett Green-Sappington, associate director of residential life facilities planning. 

Wolpers is in the midst of renovations and houses a mechanical room that serves Johnston, so the halls will be assessed together, she said.   

In addition to those assessments, workers doing routine maintenance in campus buildings are trained to notice issues that might call for further inspection, Basi said in February.

 Supervising editor is Katherine Reed.

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Ellis Smith June 10, 2014 | 6:26 p.m.

Do the provisions noted in this article apply to ALL FOUR University of Missouri System campuses; if not, WHY not? Please clarify.

Why wouldn't they apply, unless no system truly exists? More than half the so-called System's students are today enrolled jointly at the other three campuses.

(Report Comment)
Joe Guszkowski June 11, 2014 | 12:35 p.m.

Mr. Smith, I was the reporter on this story. It's my understanding that this was an MU-Columbia decision, not a system-wide one. My reporting focused on MU's decision and what led up to it. Whether and how an individual university's policy decisions relate to the wider system might be something for another story.

Thanks for reading!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith June 11, 2014 | 2:37 p.m.

@ Joe Guszkowski & the Missourian:

First, I realize, Joe, that you are a Missourian reporter and do not formulate the policies of this so-called "System." Further, I think your article, confined to happenings at MU, is well done.

I have stated, and will continue to state, that matters of this consequence* should be addressed by formulating policies for the university as a WHOLE, NOT on a campus-by-campus basis. Obviously, for each campus there might need to be additional notations to cover any situations unique to that campus, but a policy should be system-wide.

Either there REALLY is a university SYSTEM or there is not. It's been more than 50 years now since the "System" was inaugurated; sufficient time for us to get our act together! If no system actually exists, let's stop pretending there is a system.

PS: My maternal grandmother's family name was Wodetski.

*- If the matter which precipitated formulating the inspection regulations is only of minor importance, why is a person dead and there is a pending lawsuit?

(Report Comment)

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