The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Haas Fine Arts losing its luster

When music department Chairman Bob Knight attended the annual departmental meeting with the chancellor to review the annual report in July, two weeks after he took the department’s top spot, he informed those present that they had a serious problem with room 139 in Haas Fine Arts Center.

“We have wonderful faculty, wonderful students and we have a band room that is falling into the river,” he said.

Knight said the previous music department chairman had brought up numerous times that the room has been in dire need of repair since Haas was built in 1970.

“What really brought it to a head last summer was that, if you look at it now, the southwest corner of the band room is over six inches lower than the rest of the floor,” he said.

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Knight added that this does not affect the outside walls of Haas because of their stability, but the room was built using a slab of concrete for the floor with no strong support underneath.

This April, Knight said, they will have a walk-through with potential contractors, who will submit bids, and construction will begin after finals week.

The repairs are being funded by the state, Director of Facilities Planning and Management Steve Horner said, and will cost about $100,000 as opposed to the $30 million that it would take to replace Haas itself.

“What the engineers suspect,” he said, “is that they built it over an old ravine that they filled in . (and) thought it was okay, but the constant freeze (and) thaw action may have washed out some of the fill over the years.”

Knight added that the affected room has built-in tiers students use that add more weight and help to accelerate the sinking of the floor.

He said with 500 majors and minors in the music, dance and theater department, the building is constantly in use.

Senior Allison Bulger said while the visible cracks between the floor and the wall do not affect her violin playing, the cold air that comes from the separation between the wall and the floor does.

“It takes more time to warm up (the instrument),” she said. “(Being in that room) three times a week for an hour and a half each time becomes unbearable.”

Bulger added that string, woodwind and percussion instruments could, over time, become damaged because of the temperature change.

UW-Eau Claire brought in a firm over the summer that replaced the concrete slabs to stabilize air returns in the room, which had become disnconnected to the ventilation system in the ceiling due to the sinking floor.

“There is no foundation trouble,” Horner said. “There is no sign that (the foundation has) moved at all.”

He added that the second floor of Haas, including the room above room 139, is also stable.

He said the room itself is safe for students to use, and the necessary repairs will take place this summer.

“Basically they’re going to tear the band room down to dirt and make it just a flat slab, no tiers, which is actually what everyone prefers,” Knight said.

By doing this, Horner said, it will make the area more accessible to students with disabilities.

“The (tiers) are difficult to get on and off of,” Bulger said. “When late kids come in, they have to crawl over others and it’s disruptive.”

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Haas Fine Arts losing its luster