University shuts down Corcoran Hall

Corcoran Hall was evacuated Tuesday and classes held in the building were canceled. Hatchet File Photo

This post was updated at 12:42 a.m. on June 6, 2013.

GW evacuated Corcoran Hall after officials found a crack that spanned the entire width of the aging science building Tuesday.

The University canceled classes in the building Wednesday and will bring in “outside experts” to assess the damage, according to a campus alert. Corcoran Hall is housing several chemistry and physics labs and lectures this summer.

An updated alert Wednesday said the building would remain closed through Sunday.

The crack in the concrete of the basement runs across almost the entire width of the building, chemistry department chair Michael King told faculty in an email obtained by The Hatchet. Structural engineers are on site to assess the damage and will drill into the surface tonight to collect soil samples, King wrote.

“The big concern is with the columns at the south end of the building that are supported on the slab,” he wrote, adding that the crack has a “dip of about 1/4 inch on [its] south side.”

Spokeswoman Jill Sankey said in an email that the University will send an update on the situation Wednesday after engineering consultants investigate.

Construction crews have worked this year to relocate staircase on the south side of Corcoran to make way for GW Museum’s loading dock. Workers have also drilled underground for the two below-grade floors of the museum.

The construction work has caused strain on the building, which professors believed would disrupt research just as they are gearing up to move into the $275 million Science and Engineering Hall.

Christopher Sterling, a Columbian College associate dean, said last month that there have been “some issues” with construction at Corcoran Hall this year, but declined to go into details because other top administrators and the constuction firm Tishman may still have to negotiate how to pay for further repairs.

Corcoran, Bell and Tompkins halls have been allotted about $13 million for repairs and renovations by the University through 2016.

Corcoran Hall, a D.C.-designated historical landmark, was the first building constructed for GW on the Foggy Bottom Campus in 1924. Researchers have been credited with building the first bazooka in the Corcoran basement during World War II.

– Mary Ellen McIntire contributed to this report.




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