The basement of the Shelby building, which flooded in February of 2019, is now set to reopen in December of 2021.
The initial projection for reopening, as detailed in The Charger Times’ previous article about the flood, had been the beginning of this current semester. However, according to a summary presented on Sept. 17 to the UA Board of Trustees by assistant vice president of facilities and operations Greg Smith, repairs were delayed due to unforeseen weather conditions.
According to the report, the project was put on hold after the weather conditions that caused the initial flooding, which were not projected to happen again for another 40 years, occurred between December and March. Repairs were originally scheduled to begin in February of 2020, but were pushed back in light of the unexpected weather. The revised schedule can be found here.
As pressurized groundwater has been shown to be a particular risk to this location on campus, the renovation plans include several strategies to mitigate risk of future flooding. These include improved drainage systems and wells to monitor the water level. After the initial flooding last February, several holes were drilled below the loading dock on the side of the building, which will help minimize damage in the event that the building does flood again. The initial cost of the project, between repairs and improvements, was estimated at $1.7 million. The Times has reached out to senior campus architect Christian Reed to see if this estimate has changed.
Repairs have taken place to the electrical system, as well as to the cracks at the base of the south wall caused by the pressure buildup of over 12 inches of groundwater. Campus architects also chose to replace the sections of drywall that may have been subjected to water damage. The layout of the building will remain mostly the same, but the report specifies that the vivarium spaces will be expanded.
Despite concerns expressed by the faculty senate, risk assessors have found the building to be structurally sound, and steps were taken to avoid mold and other biological risks. If repairs proceed along schedule, the basement should be in use shortly after more in-person classes begin.