By Leah Kieff
The stink is finally gone from the George Washington Hall basement.
For years, an insufficient heating and cooling system left the walls chronically damp with what Rick Pearce, associate vice president for Business and Finance, called “a locker room smell.”
Now, after a $1.5 million renovation, the GW basement is stench-free and once again home to the office of Instructional Technology, which had been residing in several locations around campus during the project—principally a temporary trailer in the parking lot behind GW Hall.
Pearce said that trailer might eventually end up being moved to Goolrick Hall for equipment storage.
The basement problems began several years ago with some minor flooding, according to Pearce. Although the water levels were not very high and did not reach the point of damaging any of the technological equipment, the building’s outdated heating and cooling system was inadequate for regulating temperature and humidity, allowing the dampness to infiltrate the walls and remain there even after the water had been cleaned up—leading to the “locker room smell.”
Pearce said the renovations were long overdue. When contractors tore down the walls, they found mold, along with asbestos between the lining and in some corners. Although the asbestos was not in areas where it could affect people, the entire hall was sealed off during the renovations. The inhalation of asbestos can cause serious illness.
Contractors also found lead paint on the walls, according to Pearce—not uncommon in the buildings around campus that were constructed in the 1930s; the same thing was found during the recent renovations of Lee Hall and Seacobeck. However, Pearce said the lead paint in GW was under multiple layers of acrylic paint and so posed no threat.
Pearce said the basement renovations are just the beginning of a full makeover for the building, which should occur within the next 5 to 10 years.
Jamey Long, the operations manager for Instructional Technology, said the people in his officer were excited about the move back into GW from the trailer and other locations around campus.
“We have RTAs now—Resident Tech Assistants—in the dorms as well as in the academic buildings,” he said.
Beginning this semester, RTAs will be available Monday to Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the academic buildings and on Sundays at the same times in the residence halls to help students, faculty and staff with their computer woes.