Facility crews are dispatched to the Western Illinois University Union every time it rains. "Any time that happens we just have extra labor. We go up there and we suck up the water and make sure it doesn't damage anything," said Scott Coker, Director of Facility Management.
Last fall, Western completed a $7 million renovation of the University Union to address some structural issues and improve the food court. But the remodel has a flaw.
The patio on the north side of the building has a slope to it. So when it rains, water pools and runs toward the Union instead of into the drains.
Coker said both the construction company and design firm that worked on the Union renovations are to blame. “Unfortunately it’s not a very exactly cut and dried responsibility and I feel like that’s what held us up in getting it fixed. You can’t say absolutely one person take care of it because it’s kind of shared,” Coker said.
Leander Construction of Canton and FGM Architects out of Chicago have worked with Western on previous projects around campus. Leander handled the Spencer Recreation Center addition and built the Multicultural Center. FGM oversaw the design of the Corbin-Olson remodel. Coker said the school has not had a problem with either firm before.
“This whole time we have been going back and forth on who is responsible and how we are going to fix it. Over the winter, we didn’t push real hard to make a decision because we didn’t want to tear it up in the middle of winter,” Coker said.
He said it will cost about $150,000 to replace the patio because most of the materials cannot be reused. Leander has agreed to cover the additional construction costs and FGM is working on the redesign for free. Problems with who pays for what could arise if the redesign calls for more drains or some other additional cost.
Coker said everything was lined up about six weeks ago to start the repair work. But then Western decided to bring in a third-party engineering firm to take another look at the design plans. Coker says Benton & Associates of Macomb is doing the review for about $5,000.
“So that’s what we are still reviewing is making sure the changes and when they put it back it’s going to work properly because we feel we have one chance in tearing it out and fixing it and we want to make sure it’s done right,” Coker said.
There’s no scheduled date to start the repair work.
Coker said the sloped patio has not caused any permanent water damage to the Union. Western plans to have the patio fixed in time for the start of the fall semester.
“The patio has been way underutilized and we are hoping that when it gets fixed you will see people out there. It’s an extension of the food court area," Coker said.
"It’s really nice. People are missing out on that.”