Just like the long lines in Starbucks, spotting Blue II at the HRC and unpredictable Indiana weather, scaffolding and construction crews have been the norm around campus, especially at Jordan Hall.
The current construction projects on Jordan Hall include repairing the entryway near the old post office location and the entryway by the College of Education.
Jerry Carlson, director of maintenance services, said the entryway project near the old post office started last June when some bulges were noticed around the entrance.
The crews have been working on tearing down the wall, putting in new mortar, relaying the stones and putting new limestone around that entry’s arches. The other entryway project near the COE consists of similar repairs.
The repairs are addressing stones that have become loose due to mortar disintegration around them.
The post office entryway is set to be finished March 1. The budget for the project is approximately $700,000, Carlson said.
The university’s own five-person mason crew is working on the entrance near the COE, and that
funding comes from the operations budget.
Eventually, the plan is to relay the stones around the whole building, Carlson said.
Richard Michal, executive director of facilities, said he likes to think of Jordan Hall as the Golden Gate Bridge, which constantly has crews touching up the bridge’s paint.
Michal said the repairs are not structurally important as far as holding the building up, but weather wears on the stone walls.
When the mortar around the stones begin to break down, cracks conform and let moisture into the building, and cause bubbles in the paint and plaster on the walls.
Michal said the cracks in the walls are also what allow leaks when it rains. The stair towers in the building have covers on the ceilings to collect leakage.
“Those are the bane of my existence,” Michal said. “I want to get the whole building fixed so we can eliminate those and restore the building back to original beauty.”
Taking on that challenge has not been without its challenges.
Charles Truax, structures supervisor, said along with inclement weather conditions, the building itself can get in the way of renovation.
“It’s the scale of the size of the building,” Truax said. “You can’t work everywhere on the building at one time.
“We have to always make adjustments to be sensitive to the activities of the building. It can be quite noisy, which can disrupt classes.”
Truax said to be respectful of classes, the crews occasionally have to rearrange their schedules to work around class time.
The more than 80-year-old building will require more work, so Carlson said he hopes to have some deferred maintenance money identified so work can continue.
Jordan Hall has been under construction for more than 25 years, but Carlson said officials hopes this relaying of stones will be more of a permanent fix, rather than just touching up the walls at the mortar or joints between the stones.
The tuck-pointing, or touching up the mortar, was a quick fix to address leaks but only lasted four or five years, Truax said. The relaying of the stones should last closer to 20 years.
Next up for Jordan Hall is a five-year plan to address the building’s most vulnerable aspects, which include many of the entryways.
Specifically, the entryway just to the west of the post office entrance will be fixed next. Then, over the summer, crews will start working on the entrance near the president’s office.
Although crews are constantly doing preventative maintenance and it requires a lot of resource, Michal said it comes with the territory when dealing with historical landmarks like Jordan.
“It’s a blessing and a curse,” Michal said. “Our challenge is to recognize it as that. What great opportunity and what beautiful buildings to have. You can never rebuild those buildings or replace them.
“We’re stewards of these resources, and it’s our responsibility to protect them and to preserve them while also meeting the mission of the university to provide safe, comfortable environments for our students, faculty and staff.”