South Hall elevators to be replaced

Media Credit: Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

All three of South Hall's elevators will be replaced this year. Residents have reported elevator outages for almost six years.

After years with multiple elevator outages, South Hall is getting an elevator upgrade.

Officials announced last month that workers will replace all three of the elevators in the residence hall this year. Residents of the building have said for at least six years that elevator outages were common, leaving them stranded or waiting for long periods of time for one of the few operating elevators.

The replacement work began last week and will continue until July 2017, according to a notice posted on the elevators in the building. One elevator will be out of service at all times until the end of the repair period, and contractors working on the replacements will be on-call to handle other elevator maintenance, University spokesman Kurtis Hiatt said in an email.

Hiatt declined to comment on the cost of the replacement, what issues led to the decision to completely replace the elevators and how often they broke down. Last year, the elevator maintenance company Elcon Enterprises was doing work on the elevators in the building, but Hiatt declined to say which company will be installing the new ones.

Simultaneous outages of multiple elevators in the building have left students trapped on one of the 10 floors in the building since South Hall was built in 2009. The first few weeks after South Hall opened, GW received more than 50 requests a week for general maintenance issues in the building, including at least 10 complaints about the elevators.

A year after the building opened, the University apologized about the elevators in the building and admitted that there was a problem with their installation. Officials at the time said there was an oversensitivity in their electronic programming when they were installed that led to the first of many outages in the building.

Three years ago, there were 71 people caught in elevators on campus in 30 instances, according to data from D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Service received through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Ali Belinkie, the president of the Residence Hall Association, said the University was first planning on replacing the elevators last spring but postponed repairs to the fall after move-in so that students could have three working elevators for moving in and out of the building.

It would take about four months to replace the first elevator, Belinkie said.

“They are really trying to take into account student feedback and what students want,” she said.

Getting the elevators replaced is one of officials’ top priorities, Belinkie said.

“I think they really thought this through, really organized it well and are doing everything they can to make it easier for students this year throughout the new construction of the elevators,” she said.

Kimberly Koperski, who lived on the top floor of the building her senior year, called it a “difficult” situation whenever the elevators broke down. She said that she also lived in the building over the summer and that she had a hard time walking up the stairs in the summer heat, especially with groceries.

Some students have expressed frustration because the University did not provide timely warning for the construction. Taylor Schmidt, another resident, said that if students had been told about the construction earlier, it may have influenced their decision to live in South Hall.

“It may have impacted people’s choice to live here if we were informed that this construction would be going on all year and even occur on Saturdays at 9 a.m.,” she said.

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