Campus Operations responds to falling ceilings

Currently, there is a line of orange cones and yellow security tape surrounding the back corner of the first floor of the D building across from the C building where a piece of a concrete beam that held up the ceiling and the second floor fell onto the walkway below. This area extends from just after room D106 around the corner to the end of the walkway on the back of the building and includes President Dave Rule’s personal parking spot. What is left of the fallen beam as well as the rest of the beams have been cut slanted downward. Although Campus Operations hasn’t been vocal about this issue, they have established safety measures preventing students from going in that area.

According to Dexter Johnson, director of Campus Operations, this is a result of a 10 to 20-year condition that has only been showing problems recently. He said that the D building, which was built as an add-on to the college campus years after the A, B and C buildings, was originally built with a technique called shotcrete. This technique involves a concrete mixture that is sprayed over steel beams and poles. Johnson recalled that there were “problems with the bonding process” of the concrete when this technique was used. As a result, the concrete began to deteriorate with the help of the weather, which caused a piece of the beam to fall.  “You can kind of see some places where the weather has started to deteriorate it and caused it to fail,” said Johnson. He also said that “it’s not falling because of the weather, it’s falling because of the process they used.”

This is not the only occurrence of pieces of the ceiling falling. Johnson stated that it has been a “reoccurring problem” and for that reason he doesn’t know the actual date when this particular chunk of concrete fell. Campus Operations took the cones down a couple of weeks ago but put them back because “it’s about safety more than anything,” said Johnson.

In order to fix this problem, Campus Operations first needed to determine if the problem was more serious than originally thought. “We had engineers come out, we did x-rays of the columns to make sure they’re strong and solid,” said Johnson, stating that the beams were still secure. They still, however, will “go back in, and if there are bonding issues, we’re going to do what we need to do in order to fix any issues.” He said that this process of fixing the ceiling would take two to three weeks.

As for a lack of transparency on this matter, it is “not that big of a deal,” according to Johnson. “It’s more cosmetic than anything,” he said, stating that the concrete falling doesn’t affect the stability of Bellevue College’s infrastructure, since the metal beams are still intact. He also believes that the building will not likely collapse, but did not confirm whether or not more pieces of concrete would fall. Johnson assures the BC community that they aren’t trying to hide anything and if someone had asked, Campus Operations would have been open about the issues. “If someone had wanted to discuss it, we would have discussed it with them,” he said. “It is what it is, nothing to be concerned about.”

Despite students not being able to use this area, President Dave Rule said he was still parking in his spot every day. “Nothing has fallen in the actual space, at least not to my knowledge,” he said. “I never stopped using it and still do.”

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