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ARC marks

White powder mars rec center’s brick walls
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:00 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mike Griggs calls it efflorescence. Others call it white crust. Either way it’s ugly, and it’s all over the Activity and Recreation Center.

The ARC has been open for just over a year but already the white, powdery substance is showing up in patches near the roof and near the ground on the brick sides of the building.

Griggs, parks services manager for the city, said the efflorescence, which wipes off with the swipe of a finger, is probably just “moisture behind the brick that’s coming to the surface ... it could be condensation or rainwater.”

Some people who use the ARC, however, are noticing and wondering about the white stuff.

“I remembered that another building in town did the same thing and that some brick buildings just do this,” ARC user Jim Pestle said, later confirming his reference was to the MU Law School. At the ARC, he said, “I noticed it on the (Ash Street) side ... it’s much worse there.”

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Bricks on the Activity and Recreation Center, 1701 W. Ash St., have been collecting a white powder that is caused by excess rainwater or by moisture behind the bricks. Although the efflorescence is common in newer buildings, the problem has reappeared despite having been solved last year.

Griggs said that efflorescence appeared last year, too, but that the contractors took care of it in the spring. Now, it is reappearing.

“In wintertime it becomes more visible because of high moisture content ... there’s a lot of moisture in the air,” Griggs said.

The “new building bloom” phenomenon, Griggs said, usually appears 60 to 90 days after a brick building is built. Although it is happening later in the case of the ARC, Griggs isn’t concerned.

“It’s not on our interior walls, so we know our walls aren’t being compromised,” he said.

Griggs said the cause of the problem “could be a punctured membrane that’s stopping the water from coming down” to the ground. He said the city would examine affected areas this spring when it’s warmer. Based on their inspections, Griggs said they would either reapply a membrane to carry the water down to the ground or apply a water repellent to the bricks.

Any cost to the city from treating the bricks should be “nominal,” Griggs said, because parks services already has the materials.

The ARC opened in December 2002 after 16 months of construction. The total cost was $10.5 million.


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