At around 1 p.m. Sunday, a large slab of concrete fell from the third-floor facade of the University of Wisconsin Van Hise Hall, crashing directly in front of its main entrance, according to a tweet from the UW System.
The building remains open with the affected Linden Drive entrance being closed, UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said in an email statement to The Badger Herald. McGlone said no classes are held in the building this semester and no injuries were reported.
“We’re grateful no one was hurt in this incident and are working diligently to understand what caused it to occur and what action may be needed to keep everyone safe,” McGlone said.
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McGlone said the university expects to contract out for a thorough engineering review of the building’s facade and hardscape. Though, McGlone said the process will take time to complete.
The entire front entrance is currently cordoned off with yellow tape. The photo tweeted by the UW system shows the roughly 10-foot-long slab lying with one side propped up by a large metal dumpster. The dumpster — which had been placed by the entrance — had an indentation in its side resulting from the mishap. Directly above was a large gap in the facade where the slab had been.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the dumpster had been placed there as a part of an unrelated bathroom renovation.
The UW System tweet described the collapsed feature as belonging to Van Hise’s numerous exterior envelopes.
“Van Hise Hall has exterior envelopes not unlike other buildings throughout the UW System that are aging and in disrepair,” the UW System tweet said.
According to a follow-up tweet, the many aging buildings in the UW System account for why 83% of its proposed capital budget is earmarked for renovation and replacement. Gov. Tony Evers 2021-23 capital budget includes $1 billion for the UW System.
With so many buildings being of a higher priority, Van Hise did not even make the shortlist, according to the tweet. In an email statement, former Dean for the School of Education Julie Underwood stressed the importance of funding building maintenance.
“Maintenance should not be considered luxury spending,” Underwood said. “We need the resources to keep our campus safe.”
Van Hise is set to be demolished in 2035 or later, according to WPR.
This article was updated on April 22 at 12:43 a.m to reflect a correction about Julie Underwood’s position at UW. Underwood served as Dean for the School of Education from 2005 to 2015 and is currently a professor emeritus. Underwood is not currently serving as the Dean.