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WIU Renovations Don't Stand Up to Weather

TSPR's Emily Boyer

A renovation mishap has Western Illinois University worried about flooding at the University Union.

Western completed about $10 million worth of renovations to the Union over the summer.

“There’s always problems with construction, nothing ever goes perfectly," said Scott Coker, Director of Facilities Management.

The problem is only noticeable when it rains. That's when the new patio addition on the north side of the building funnels water toward the Union instead of away from it. With more than an inch of rain the Lamoine Room and north Union entrance vestibule flood.

"The problem is there's just not enough slope away from the building towards the drains and it's just in the way the deck was poured," Coker said.

Coker said it's likely the entire concrete patio will need to be redone and that could cost upwards of $150,000. He said the concrete floor has tubing throughout to make it a heated surface equipped with a snow melt system.

“The tubing is continuous in all this concrete so you can’t really just cut a section out,you would probably have to replace it all," Coker said.

Leander Construction from Canton over the saw the north patio project. The group has worked with Western before on the construction of the Multicultural Center and the addition to the recreation center. Coker said Western is in talks with Leander Construction about what can be done to fix the surface.

Credit TSPR's Emily Boyer
Sandbags protect the entrance to the Lamoine Room from rain water

“If it’s an error by the contractor, then the contractor should be responsible," Coker said. "If there was a design problem, then we have an architecture firm that designed this project for us, FGM. If there’s a problem in the design then they should be responsible.”

He said Western is using sandbags to protect the entrances and sending workers to the area with Shop-Vacs after it rains to clean up the standing water.

There hasn't been any permanent water damage to the Lamoine room. He said water doesn't hurt Terrazo flooring and the vinyl is also pretty waterproof.

“But if it continues to get water underneath the glue for the vinyl floor would release so that would be the potential for damage," Coker said.

The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Union's renovations is scheduled for Friday at 2 p.m.

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.