Story Links

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Terry Holland, director of athletics at the University of Virginia, met with the approximately 50 employees of University Hall today to discuss with them plans for the temporary relocation of their offices.

U.Va. officials closed the building at 4 p.m. Wednesday as a precautionary measure after a structural inspection found that a number of the wires incorporated into the structure that supports the domed roof were broken.

“We are now trying to organize a plan to relocate everyone,” said Leonard W. Sandridge Jr., executive vice president. “In the next few days, steps may be taken to retrieve computers, records, and other items still inside the building that are necessary for employees to do their jobs. From the start, the safety of our employees and the public has been our No. 1 concern, and we will continue to make that our priority.”

As an additional safety measure, workers also have begun to construct a chain-link fence 75 feet away from the perimeter of the building that will both prevent passersby from gaining access to the site and provide a defined area in which workers can begin repairing University Hall.

“While we are looking to develop a permanent solution to the problem, we will begin working immediately to stabilize the present situation,” said Robert P. Dillman, chief facilities officer. “We have every reason to be optimistic about the long-term prospects of repairing U-Hall. We want to move quickly to complete this stabilization, so that we can then move into the permanent solution phase.”

The problems in the roof were discovered earlier this week during a routine structural inspection of the 33-year-old basketball arena. The building was closed shortly thereafter. University Hall operations, which include the ticket office, will be closed Friday and throughout the weekend.

The University has performed regular inspections of University Hall over the past several years. The current inspection, conducted by university and consulting structural engineers, began Aug. 3. The inspection involves chipping away the concrete covering of the steel band in several places to examine the underlying tension ring. The ring is composed of a band of 670 individual wires of 3/16″ diameter that encircle the dome, holding the structure together at the roof line.

The construction is similar to a wire band holding together the staves of a barrel.

Visual inspection showed at least 31 wires broken in one place and one wire broken at another location. According to Dillman, two series of engineering tests are being performed. A sample of the wires was taken and will be analyzed for strength and metallurgy. Also, the original design firm, Severud Associates, of New York, is running an analysis of the inspection data to help determine the extent of the problem. Both engineering reports are expected in the next few weeks.

Print Friendly Version