The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Melchers Springs a Leak

3 min read

By Jess Pike

On Friday Nov. 2,  40 to 50 gallons of water came pouring out of panels and light fixtures onto the second floor of Melchers Hall.
“It was a big mess,” said Jean Dabb, Art and Art History Department chair.
According to Dabb, there were also smaller leaks of water in the stair wells and ceiling tiles throughout Melchers.
Senior Art major, Katelyn Cowen said she was dismayed by the leaks.
“I came into the painting studio to find a puddle of water and a ceiling tile on the ground in front of my painting,” she said.
Cowan added that this wasn’t the first time she and others in Melchers have had to deal with the water problem.
“When we have a steady amount of rain, the ceilings leak in the painting studio and elsewhere,” she said, adding that she has had to put a tarp over her painting to protect it from the reoccurring leaks.
Concerns about the leaks on Nov. 2 led the Art Department to call workers at Facilities Services, who they said responded immediately.
According to Gary Hobson, associate director for Capital Outlay, Facilities Services has now taken care of the cracks in the roof responsible for the leaks.
“They have been repaired to the best of our knowledge based on locations identified to date,” he said.
Hobson said the problems stem from the fact that Melchers has a flat membrane-covered roof that is prone to occasional leaks due to wind-driven rain and thermal expansion/contraction.
The recent flooding occurred two months after the school spent $1.1 million to renovate Melchers Hall.
The renovation project began as soon as classes finished in Spring 2007, and ended the weekend before classes started this fall semester.
The main focus of the project was to replace the three rooftop air handling units with two larger and more energy efficient air-handling units to ensure proper ventilation and minimize odor migration from the various art studios in the building.
Hobson, who supervised the Melchers renovations, said he believes that some of the recent leaks were indirectly attributable to the foot traffic and work that occurred on the roof to replace the rooftop air handling units.
In addition to replacing the rooftop air handling units, contractors also relocated the sculpture studio, painting studio, drawing studio and the print studio within Melchers Hall over the summer.
Additionally, the computer lab was expanded, and a dust collection system was added outside the building to support the equipment in the sculpture studio.
Art Department chair Dabb said she and others were pleased with the renovations.
“The changes to Melchers are great improvements that should have been done years ago,” she said.
According to Richard R. Pearce associate vice president for Business and Finance, the total Melcher Hall renovation project budget is $1.25 million.
“There is still another part of the project that is left to complete,” says Dabb.
According to Dabb, an outdoor welding facility will be attached to the back of Melchers and is scheduled to be built this summer.
Carole Garmon, associate professor of Art and Art History, has been advocating the welding building for the past six years.
The projected welding facility will increase the number of art classes made available to students.
Dabb said she hopes that metal, welding and casting classes will be available for the next academic year.