It’s crunch time! Back in April, Hutton Construction superintendent Mike told us that toward the end of a job, it’s critical to get the “smarts and parts” in order to get them installed and meet the deadline.
“Those are the things like technology—and there’s going to be a lot of it on the first floor—or door handles and other fixtures that don’t get manufactured until the order is placed,” he said.
That’s the final step. And that’s exactly what’s going down now on Hale Library’s first floor.
We are just weeks away from opening the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons. An official open date will be announced soon, but we anticipate opening most of the first floor very early this fall.
“As is the case with large construction projects, you have to expect the unexpected,” said Lori Goetsch, dean of Libraries. “But it’s coming together beautifully, and we wanted to get the word out in advance of students returning to campus.”
Stay tuned! We’re hoping to announce our opening date next week.
Hale Library’s first floor looks less like a skating rink and more like the beautiful home of the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons these days. Don’t miss the latest photos of the workers and spaces! We see in these images a promise of Hale Library’s bright future.
Doors will open to the first floor early in the fall semester, and the second floor will open spring 2020. The entire building will be complete by the end of 2020!
Thank you to University Photo Service’s Tom Theis, who took most of these amazing photos!
The Butler Family Community Foundation gift will support the creation of a new digitization lab equipped with cutting-edge technology. Librarians will use the space to scan unique and rare primary source materials from the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, which is located on Hale Library’s fifth floor. Thanks to this digitization lab, K-State Libraries will be able to preserve historic photos, documents, correspondence and more for future generations.
This process is increasingly important and a key part of preservation work in large libraries.
“We are thrilled at the prospect of extending the reach of the Libraries’ special collections to the world,” explained Brenda Butler, executive director of the Butler Family Community Foundation.
“As the digital archives become available, anyone can access a wealth of knowledge in cookery, Kansas history and so much more. This initiative finds a new way to place Kansas State and its knowledge base on a global stage. This is exactly the sort of project, with benefits to so many diverse groups of students, scholars and researchers that the Butler Family Community Foundation and our commitment to education, creativity and community is proud to support.”
As K-State Libraries’ Associate Dean Sheila Yeh noted recently, “The state-of-the-art digitization lab will be unique to K-State, our community, and the Libraries. It is often not possible nor economical to transport those collections to and from an out-sourced digitization facility. … This is an example of a sustainable service model with a far-reaching impact.”
Thank you to the Butler Family Community Foundation and the many alumni and friends who have been inspired by K-State’s vision for a next-generation library.
There is still work to do. You can help.
Give online to support the restoration of Hale Library. It’s never been easier.
Things were heating up in Hale Library last week — quite literally, since the new HVAC system isn’t up and running yet. Testing was in progress, and they were about to turn things on!
The warmer days of summer haven’t stopped construction one bit, though. We recently walked through and saw spaces that reminded us how far we’ve come. We also snapped photos of a few of the more than 120 workers who are making it all happen. (Thank you for being such good sports!)
In the video above, Brenna Leahy, communications student employee, and Mike Haddock, associate dean, look around the first floor under construction. The sunflower entrance at Hale Library’s southeast corner is behind Brenna and Mike. As the video pans to the left, you see the entrance to a large space for meetings and presentations, and then the sites of the new cafe, the entry arch to the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons and spaces between the pillars where glass-walled reservable group study rooms will be situated.
We’ll be back with another building update later in July. Carpet installation is happening on first floor soon!
It’s a new era in Hale Library. When Associate Dean Mike Haddock goes into the building to document construction these days, he’s coming out with more and more photos of clean, white drywalled spaces and fewer and fewer of rubble and demolition.
The Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons on first floor is taking shape. Things are progressing on schedule, so we aim to open the doors by the first day of fall semester 2019!
The photos below were taken from the same first-floor spot at the bottom of the stairs about 18 days apart.
Meanwhile, up on second floor, demolition continues. Ceiling tiles, drywall, pipes and ductwork have been torn out to clear the way for clean new walls like those you saw in the photos above.
Even the security gates came down.
The renovation doesn’t just affect Hale Library’s external surfaces. Haddock recently captured this photo of wiring sitting in a rusted-out electrical box. It’s a reminder that the damage wasn’t just cosmetic: Improvements are taking place at every level, at every turn.
When Hale reopens in phases starting this fall, that means improved infrastructure, including more electrical outlets and better wi-fi.
A year ago if you walked through the building after the fire, you would have experienced varying degrees of destruction. Today, you’ll find varying degrees of progress.
The building renovation is moving forward in phases — and moving quickly.
The penthouse that houses new heating and cooling units got a coat of paint recently.
Inside, the mechanical equipment is in place and ready to go online so the many, many work crews in the oldest portions of the building will be able to work in an air-conditioned environment this summer.
As Hutton Construction superintendent Mike Watkins showed us recently though, behind the clean white walls, there are still traces of the fire.
Meanwhile, on the first floor, the future home of the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons is taking shape. It seems less like a cavernous concrete rolling rink and more like a space that will be ready to welcome students for the fall semester.
On second floor, demolition is in mid-stride and the space is scheduled to open for the spring semester.
Things are moving so quickly that we have a window of opportunity. If we’re going to incorporate enhancements that will make the new Hale Library an improved environment for students, we need to raise additional funds now.
Insurance will cover like-for-like replacement costs, but when it comes to making Hale better than it was, we’ll have to rely on private dollars. More reservable study rooms, more classrooms or even more outlets to accommodate students’ innumerable electronic devices: Those will have to be funded above and beyond insurance dollars.
At every turn there’s another space in which the old, damaged materials have been cleared to make way for the new.
Plenty of old things are staying, though. For example, not all of the furniture was a total loss. Some of the salvaged tables are currently stored on the second floor in Historic Farrell Library, the 1927 portion of the building.
Where are the books? Most of the 1.5 million items are in storage units in the old limestone caves under Kansas City.
However, the cleaning process is ongoing. All of those boxes of materials are rotated through our facility near the Manhattan Regional Airport. They come in soot-stained, and they’re unboxed, individually cleaned by hand one at a time, and treated in the ozone chamber. Then they’re reboxed and sent back to a storage unit filled with clean boxes.
At this point, more than 65 percent of our Hale Library collection is clean.
With projects moving forward on so many fronts — book cleaning, construction on first, demolition on second and more — we’ll be providing frequent building updates over the summer.
If you’d like to provide some Help for Hale in support of some of these efforts, please visit the KSU Foundation’s online giving page for Hale Library renovations.
What a difference a year makes! One year ago, finals week was in full swing on the K-State campus, and Hale Library was packed. This year, construction crews started tearing down drop ceilings on Hale’s second floor and framing out new walls on the first floor.
Here’s a visual tour of the latest progress. We’re hoping for an A+!
Here are a few more views of Hale Library’s main floor that will be familiar to our regular visitors.
Meanwhile, on first floor, they’ve moved past the demolition phase and have begun framing out the walls for the new Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons, opening fall 2019.
In these photos, the yellow pointer on the embedded map indicates where the photographer, Associate Dean Mike Haddock, was standing and which direction he was facing.
The future welcoming entrance to the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons is located just inside Hale Library’s southeast doors.
We hope everyone involved in spring finals week 2019 finishes strong. We look forward to seeing you in Hale Library’s Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons for finals week next fall.
And congratulations graduates! Please come see us for a tour when you return to campus for a visit!
While students are buckling down in study spots across campus, we’re feeling nostalgic. If you ever wanted to capture the spirit of Hale Library pre-fire, you couldn’t find a better time than a Sunday or Monday during finals week.
Every table was packed, and every white board was crammed with notes and diagrams. The building itself seemed to hum with the sound of K-Staters prepping for exams or finishing papers.
This week we look back on some of the end-of-semester moments in which — it felt to us — Hale Library lived its fullest life.
Granted, there are K-Staters who used the building all year long, day in, day out, who claimed that finals week was for amateurs. We loved it, though, because during finals week the hard work and the camaraderie were writ large. It was on display at every table, on every floor … and sometimes even on the floor.
Unexpected special guests would stop by. Sometimes it was Willie Wildcat, or at the end of the fall semester, it might be a brass band playing holiday carols. Prof. Kelly Welch from Family Studies used to show up with dozens of pizzas that she distributed to surprised and grateful students.
Willie fills in at Library Help. May 9, 2016.
Local businesses Einstein Bros. Bagels, Jimmy Johns, Mr. Goodcents, Bluestem and Varsity Donuts regularly donated food. The lines stretched the length of the second floor as students took a break for snacks, caffeine and words of encouragement from our library employee volunteers.
Last May, the KSU Foundation donated goodie bags that we distributed across Hale Library’s five floors.
All of this is to say that we are keenly aware that it’s finals week once more, and we’re sad that we’re not all in Hale together.
We’re looking forward to it so much. And we’ll be sure it’s equipped with so many white boards, group study spaces and all of the outlets students need for their laptops and phones — you won’t believe how many outlets!
Until then, good luck on finals, Wildcats! Everyone at K-State Libraries is cheering for you!
The Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons opens in fall 2019. We’re so excited, we’ve done everything we can short of scaling Anderson Hall to shout it from the rooftop spire. This week we talked to the Hutton Construction superintendents in charge of making it happen.
Mike Watkins has been in construction for 17 years, including a stints working for a general contractor and as an iron worker. This isn’t his first time on the K-State campus: He worked on the Justin Hall renovation and addition in 2011.
Curt Miller has been working in the construction field a bit longer.
“I started parking cars when I was 16 for $1.60 an hour,” Miller said. “Then I got a job working on a bridge deck wielding a 90 pound jackhammer. That paid $3.20 an hour.”
One day while he was on the job, Miller said he saw the man on the job site sitting in a pickup and told his coworkers, “I want that guy’s job.”
He was superintendent on a small project by the time he was 21.
Both say that most of the jobs they work on are new construction and remodels; they don’t often work on buildings after a disaster. Because of the fire, the Hale Library project has required them to deal with a lot more remediation than they normally would. They’re used to dealing with asbestos, but in Hale Library they’ve had to remediate old lead paint, plus smoke and soot contaminants, too.
Of course, not all jobs are this large, either. In order to manage work throughout the 400,000-plus square feet, they have a third short-term superintendent, plus five foremen who report directly to them. Additionally, there are approximately seven or eight sub-contractors and as many as 100 workers in Hale Library on any given day.
A construction worker uses a remote-controlled mini excavator with a jackhammer attachment to tear out concrete on the first floor. April 23, 2019.
“It’s a big job,” Miller said. “But I think we have a pretty good team dynamic.”
They say that the penthouse that covers the new roof-top HVAC units has been the biggest challenge so far.
“We had to build a roof over the old roof to protect the library’s fourth floor from the weather,” Watkins said. “Then we removed the old roof and installed the floor. In a normal job, you’d start from the ground up.”
While Hale Library’s users might not find the mechanical room an exciting part of the renovation, the process of watching it come together has been fascinating.
The timeline to get the first floor done by fall 2019 is also challenging.
A typical remodel would have more time built into the front-end for the design process. With the Hale Library renovation, the schedule is compressed, and plans are evolving constantly. It requires the superintendents and their teams to remain flexible and patient.
Watkins also said it will be critical to get the “smarts and parts” in time in order to get them installed and meet the deadline.
“Those are the things like technology—and there’s going to be a lot of it on the first floor—or door handles and other fixtures that don’t get manufactured until the order is placed,” he said.
What are some of the things coming up that Watkins and Miller say we should be looking forward to?
A worker jackhammers out damaged tile in the first floor sunflower entryway. April 15, 2019.
They’re almost done with the first floor demolition, and then the framing will get underway.
They’re also working hard to get the rooftop air handlers online by May 1. Once they’re in the penthouse and functioning, they’ll help keep Farrell Library cool this summer. It will also help with air flow through the oldest parts of the building where they are working to lower the humidity and dry out the plaster.
While we were visiting with Watkins and Miller, we ran into K-State Student Ambassadors Tel Wittmer and Maddy Mash taking their own Hale Library tour, and we asked them what they thought.
“I think students are going to love all of the different types of study spaces,” Mash said. “And it will be great to have more natural light. That’s really exciting, too.”
Mash and Wittmer will be traveling across Kansas this year to talk about everything K-State, and now they’re prepared to answer questions about Hale Library.
If our readers have any questions for us or for Hutton Construction superintendents Mike Watson and Curt Miller, leave them in the comments!
Today’s Hale Library is cavernous, dimly lit, dusty and loud. Showers of sparks fly as work crews weld new pipes in place. A jackhammer clanks and stutters as they remove damaged entryway tiles.
Tomorrow’s Hale Library? It will be welcoming, well-lit and comfortable.
Having a hard time picturing it? Maybe this will help:
Right now on the first floor, workers on aerial lifts install new pipes and duct work. Metal studs cover the limestone facade of the 1955 stacks addition.
But when the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons opens on Hale Library’s first floor in fall 2019, this wall will be partially covered by white board surfaces, offering plenty of room for students to study and collaborate.
Sections of the limestone will remain uncovered, though. It’s one of the many ways the renovated Hale Library will deliver new, needed amenities for students while honoring the building’s long history.
We can picture it already–the return of the marathon white board study sesh:
And students will be able to access those white boards at all hours of the day because–drumroll please!–the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons will be open 24/7.
We’ll be able to close the first floor off from the rest of the building so that students can have the study space they need when they need it–even if that’s at 3:00 a.m.
When the second floor opens in spring 2020, it will feature a similar white board wall.
The first and second floors of the 1927 building, Historic Farrell Library, will open during one of the last phases. When they do open, though, the amazing natural light and plaster work will take center stage.
Previously, few Wildcats ventured into these rooms as they were densely packed with collections and office cubicles.
In the renovation, they’ll be transformed into public gathering spots. The second floor (shown above) will feature current periodicals and plenty of comfortable seating.
Directly below that living room space, the first floor of the 1927 building will include the same comfortable seating plus juvenile literature and curriculum materials, some of our highest use collections.
And for those of you wondering about food and drink options, rest assured that the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons will include an exciting new dining venue.
Named in honor of the Hale Family, the new café area will feature a warm, welcoming seating area with wood details salvaged from Historic Farrell Library. Visitors will be able to choose from a variety of settings in which to enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee, including comfortable lounge chairs situated around a large two-sided fireplace, a feature frequently requested by students.
We look forward to sharing more photos as these spaces come to life. If you have questions about the planned space, ask them in the comments section.
And if you’d like to help make the future of Hale Library a reality, visit our Help for Hale webpage or contact Chris Spooner, KSU Foundation Associate Vice President of Development Programs, at 785-775-2130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve got a big-picture update on the future of Hale Library, including a sneak peek of the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons, opening fall 2019. You’ll also find dramatic renderings of the Innovation Center and working designs for new study spaces, meeting rooms and more.
Want the latest news about insurance reimbursements? In our Q&A with Dean Lori Goetsch, she shares all there is to know about insurance and the cost of renovating Hale Library.
“I never realized how complicated it would be to negotiate an insurance settlement of this magnitude,” Dean Goetsch said. “Hale Library is so large, and it was packed with furniture and technology. The insurance adjustors and all of the various parties have been working for months to estimate the costs.”
And when will all of this happen? The building will reopen in phases, with the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons opening up first, in fall 2019.
Of course, Hale Library won’t live its best new life without our friends and supporters. If you like what you see in the magazine preview, visit Help for Hale to join in our effort to create a next-generation library.
What about the books? Thanks to hundreds of workers who put in thousands of hours, more than 1.5 million collection items were packed out in less than 17 weeks. Until Hale Library is renovated, the entire collection will be stored in multiple air-conditioned warehouses across the region.
We estimate that all 1.5 million items could be clean by July 2019. Even better news: We anticipate that more than 99 percent of the materials will be saved.
Read more about the process of cleaning and storing more than 147,700 boxes of materials!
Even without the building, K-State’s librarians are working hard to elevate research on the K-State campus.
Visit the magazine to read about two librarians who have forged a unique partnership with K-State’s athletic training program. Melia Fritch and Cindy Logan don’t just help students complete assignments, they equip them to excel in their chosen professions.
For K-Staters of a certain age, the big campus fire isn’t Hale Library but rather Nichols Gymnasium. Did you know that after a major conflagration 50 years ago, the limestone skeleton of Nichols Gym stood unrestored for almost two decades before it became Nichols Hall? Learn more from the latest installment of K-State Keepsakes in—where else?!—our magazine!
Be the first to learn about great stories like these! Don’t miss an issue of K-State Libraries Magazine. Click here to receive a copy in your mailbox.
The walls came tumbling down on Hale Library’s first floor last week! We have even more great shots of the demolition and the dramatic progress going on behind that purple construction fence.
A construction worker uses a remote-controlled mini excavator to pull down duct work in front of the first floor elevators.
As the space opens up, we can more clearly envision what the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons will look like. Stay tuned! Next week we’ll share drawings from the architects at PGAV so you, too, can get a glimpse of Hale Library’s first floor in its fall 2019 state!
Demolition and construction are in full swing in Hale Library!
When we visited on Monday, March 26, more than 60 workers swarmed through the building.
On the first floor, they were stripping out drywall and tearing down walls in preparation for the creation of the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons, opening Fall 2019.
One feature of the Learning Commons? Improved access! If you’ve visited Hale Library, you know it has two exterior entrances: One at the end of a long ramp that originates at the southwest corner and one at the opposite end of the building near Mid-Campus Drive. The latter is called the sunflower entrance because of the wrought-iron sunflower sculpture above its doors.
Previously, when a visitor used the sunflower entrance, they came inside and encountered a wall of windows that blocked their access to the first floor. Instead, they had to climb the stairs or take an elevator to the second floor in order to enter through the main gates. Another trip down the stairs or the elevator was required to get back down to the first floor.
Unsurprisingly, this configuration baffled Hale Library’s visitors and first-time users (and frankly, even K-Staters who have been around for awhile).
But no more! This week, the wall came down. When Hale Library’s first floor reopens in fall 2019, visitors will walk through the sunflower entrance directly into the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons on Hale Library’s first floor.
Meanwhile, on the third floor, workers are installing new duct work in the Great Room ceiling.
Outside, on the north side of the building, scaffolding is going up in preparation for an imminent roofing project.
A crane is parked nearby on the south edge of the quad. It is maneuvering steel beams from the roof into a space above the fourth floor Academic Learning Center where the fire started.
Since the crane operator on the ground can’t see over the building, the workers rely on communication via wireless radio to complete every step of the process.
From the outside, Hale Library appears quiet and empty. On the inside, it’s a different scene entirely. We look forward to bringing you more construction updates in the coming weeks.
Sometimes, you have to strip away the old before you can build the new. That’s our theme this week, as we bring you dramatic photos of the latest demolition and construction in Hale Library.
To help give you a sense of the site of our first photos, the jagged red spot above marks the location of the fire.
Today, if you enter Historic Farrell Library’s third floor and stand on the false floor built on top of the scaffolding that fills the Great Room, like Associate Dean Mike Haddock did recently, you can see that spot.
The Great Room murals are covered by the plywood boxes with peaked roofs, which you see in the photo above. The attic space where the fire burned is directly above and behind them.
Up close, you can see that the debris has been cleared away. Through the holes in the attic floor you look down into the Academic Learning Center (ALC) where the student athletes met for study tables. ALC staff members were the ones who first smelled the smoke, even before the fire alarms went off.
While the charred walls are a clear mark of the destruction, this also serves to illustrate that the actual fire was contained to one location. The vast majority of the damage was from smoke and water.
But enough destruction for today’s post.
How about some demolition? In Hale Library as we knew it, there were a lot of stairwells–many of them in tucked-away corners of the building that weren’t highly trafficked. They took up prime real estate, so in our renovation, we’re reclaiming the stairway highlighted in purple above.
Before we can renovate, though, it has to be demolished. It might not look very innovative right now, but workers have jack-hammered away concrete to clear away space for the Innovation Center on Hale Library’s first and second floors.
After the concrete was hauled out, crews used blowtorches to disassemble the frames of the metal staircases.
Here you can see that the demolition has cleared out the stairs between third and fourth floor. As of today, that entire stairwell has been emptied. Progress!
So, Associate Dean Mike Haddock (who takes 97% of the amazing photos we bring you) is back. The map below shows the northwest corner of the first floor. Mike, as represented by the small purple man, is standing in Historic Farrell Library’s Room 117, and the rectangles highlighted in pink represent shafts (called “chases,” in construction parlance) that extend
through the building from the first floor up to the fourth.
This is what Mike sees when he turns and faces east-north-east toward Willard Hall and Mid-Campus Drive.
If he turns to face south, he sees a wall of Room 117 opposite the large bank of windows looks like this:
For most of us, the exciting part of construction comes when you get to look at the shiny, clean end product. We’re not there yet, but there’s really important work going on now so that the new Hale Library’s infrastructure can support all of those shiny, clean new spaces, like the previously mentioned Innovation Center.
Case in point regarding infrastructure: The steel beam over the doorway in the photo above is new reinforcement.
If we were to walk through that doorway, you’d find the chases that are highlighted in pink on the floor plan above. On second, third and fourth floors, guardrails have been built around those chases for safety, since they’re essentially like an open elevator shaft.
Over the last month, workers have been installing ductwork wrapped in insulation into those chases. The ductwork runs through the building from top to bottom.
This is just some of the construction work on Hale Library’s infrastructure. With improvements like these in place, the building will have improved air quality and more efficient heating and cooling.
Progress is happening. It’s not shiny and clean, but it’s important work that will take us one step forward to our new Hale Library.
As always, if you have questions about the process, please comment on the blog post or contact us at email@example.com!
To all of our student and faculty readers, happy spring break! We won’t be posting next week, but we’ll be back on March 19.
On Feb. 13, 2019, architects from PGAV joined K-State Libraries all-staff meeting to discuss next steps for the Hale Library renovation.
The key take-away: Construction on most of the first floor has been scheduled. Meanwhile, designs for floors two through five are under development.
So in relation to the graphic above, we are at the end of Stage 3 when it comes to the first floor, and between Stages 1 and 2 for the other floors of the building.
Who are the architects in charge of this process? PGAV is based in Prairie Village, Kan., and they’ve worked on the design of more than 25 libraries, archives and special collections facilities in the last several decades.
In their work on Hale Library, PGAV has helped establish this timeline for target reopening dates:
Portions of first floor: Fall 2019
Second and fifth floor: Spring 2020
Third and fourth floors: Fall 2020
Historic Farrell Library, all floors: Late 2020/early 2021
Note that Farrell Library, the 1927 portion of the building that includes the Great Room, will open last: The plaster walls are still wet, and plaster dries very slowly. The process can’t be rushed if the integrity of the material is going to remain intact. The historic conservation of the Great Room murals and the woodwork is also very complicated.
But rest assured that the new Hale Library will incorporate the things that K-State students ask for most. We’ve spent nine months in concert with PGAV and the university community to develop spaces that fill a wide variety of needs.
Here are just a few of those desires as expressed by K-State students:
For years, noise complaints have been one of the top issues reported to the Hale Library Help Desk. Third floor was the quiet floor, but because of the way sound traveled through the building, it was never truly quiet.
Now we have the opportunity to rezone Hale Library’s noise levels: In the renovated building, first and second floors will be the most active and bustling. Third floor will be quiet, with some talking allowed, while fourth floor will be the place to go for really intense quiet. That means students like Nick might want to try a big table on third floor for an optimal study experience.
One of Hale Library’s amenities that students say they miss most since the fire is the white boards. They were always in high demand—which also meant we had to replace them frequently.
In the new building, students like Erin will have plenty of white board options to choose from. In fact, Hale Library will have entire walls covered in white boards, including long stretches on first and second floor. Those walls will be punctuated by strips of limestone that offer a glimpse of the 1955 addition’s exterior that was covered in subsequent expansions.
Hale Library spaces were repurposed multiple times over the years. In the most recent iteration, the first and second floors of Historic Farrell Library housed collections and office cubicles. That meant that the larger K-State community rarely had the opportunity to appreciate the gorgeous natural light and architectural details in those spaces.
In the renovated 1927 building, the first and second floors will be converted into public gathering spots featuring some of our high-use collections like juvenile literature. They will also be outfitted with plenty of soft seating and tables so students like Carlie can study in a room flooded with natural light.
Another retrofit: When the 1997 Hale Library renovation occurred, no one could have predicted how high the demand for outlets would be 30 years later: Today’s students want to charge their laptops and phones while studying. Since the entire building has to be rewired, we will be able to increase the number of outlets in Hale Library exponentially!
First-year students like Jacob haven’t ever experienced Hale Library. When it reopens, one of the major new improvements will be the reservable rooms that will accommodate groups of all sizes.
In fact, the first floor, which reopens in fall 2019, will feature at least a dozen of these spaces, and more will be spread throughout the building. Students will finally have a private spot equipped with video technology to practice presentations, conduct interviews and meet with study groups.
These are just a few of the types of improvements we’ve been planning with PGAV, and we look forward to featuring progress on construction of these spaces in the coming months.
At our recent all staff meeting, Associate Dean Mike Haddock gave the K-State Libraries team a run-down on the latest happenings inside Hale Library. So, as we’re lining up at the starting line for our massive first floor renovation project this spring, we wanted to give you an idea of where things stand.
Starting on the ground floor: The first floor is finally clean, so the plastic sheeting that divided the space into sections has left the building. Now, first floor looks…. a lot like the other big, empty, clean expanses on second, third and fourth floors.
There’s a little more action on the ground floor of the 1927 portion of Hale Library, where crews are removing sea foam green paint from the plaster work.
Removing the paint will aid in drying the plaster, which is still retaining moisture from the water that poured through Historic Farrell Library during the fire.
This space, Room 117, used to be packed with a lot of shelving, and except for a small group of devotees who flocked to the dozen or so tables that lined the room, few people knew about it. Once it’s renovated, Room 117 will be home to our juvenile literature and curriculum materials collections plus plenty of comfortable seating. More people than ever will be able to enjoy its beautiful architectural details and natural light.
Up in the “Harry Potter Room” on third floor, a lot of carpentry wizardry has gone into building protective boxes around the Great Room murals. This will prevent damage during all of the renovation that has to happen in the space.
Above, you can see protective dark felt fabric stretched across the murals, and on top of that, a layer of plastic.
Once the plywood “rooms” around the murals were complete, they fastened small doors at multiple levels up and down the height of each painting so the workers can climb up and down the scaffolding and check on each mural’s condition on a regular basis.
This photo is of the “dance floor” which is supported by the scaffolding that fills the Great Room. The dance floor gives workers access to the underside of the roof. Recently, a lot of the wood supports criss-crossing the space were removed.
Next, workers reinforced the existing metal roof supports with steel beams. It’s exciting to see improvements like these going in to strengthen the building so it will be here for many more generations of K-Staters.
Now, if you were to jump into the photo above, climb the orange ladder from the dance floor, go up through the attic and exit the little portal to the right, you’d arrive on the roof of Hale Library.
There used to be some massive air handling units out here on the roof, but those were heavily damaged by the fire and removed with a crane last summer. Now, a new penthouse is going up.
Before you think that we’re building something super fancy, we learned that in construction, “penthouse” refers to a shed-like structure built on the roof to house machinery or provide roof access, not “a luxurious dwelling on the top floor.”
Nonetheless, this new home for our HVAC systems will be the nexus for improved heating and cooling across the entire 550,000-square-foot building. Students who have spent time in Hale Library during the heat of summer and cold of winter (and during those hot-cold-hot fluctuations in spring and fall) have heard us say how difficult it was to control temperatures in the massive space. This penthouse and its equipment will make the new Hale Library dramatically more comfortable!
So, from the first floor to the roof, that’s what’s new at Hale Library. Our renovation begins in earnest very soon, and at this point, we still aim to reopen an amazing first floor space in fall 2019.
In the meantime, we leave you with a discovery Haddock made when he was in Hale Library to take these photos.
Nothing like a little dark humor to brighten up a cold winter day.
Maybe it’s the coming holiday season, but we’re feeling reflective. Join us in looking back at our post-fire Hale Library progress via some exciting releases (video, print, and apparel) that you might have missed.
We are so excited about this KSU Foundation video that was presented at the Friends of the K-State Libraries gala. It includes some intense live footage that hasn’t been seen widely.
We love the part where Roberta Johnson says, “When we’re done, we’re going to be better. That’s the only way you can look at losing this much. Eighty percent of the building has been destroyed. You can’t not feel devastated by that unless you have the hope that … when you put it back together [it’s] going to be better.”
That’s exactly what keeps us excited about coming to work every day and creating the news you read about Hale Library!
Speaking of reading, if you’d like a more in-depth version of what’s happened in the last six months, we hope you didn’t miss “Unexpected Journey,” in the most recent K-State Libraries Magazine.
An overwhelming amount of work has occurred since May. This is a great place to get a recap, view photos not seen elsewhere and take in some inside points-of-view from our administrators and faculty.
Finally, if you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone in your life who loves comfort, K-State and all things purple, consider the Hale Library t-shirt. On campus, it’s available at the Library Help Desk in the K-State Student Union, or you can order it online via the K-State Super Store. Proceeds go to the Help for Hale fund, which will assist with renovation efforts.
In closing, here are a few of our favorite photos of our friends in their Hale tees:
It’s done! Thanks to hundreds of workers putting in thousands of hours, more than 1.5 million collection items have been packed out of Hale Library. The herculean effort was completed on September 20, a little less than 17 weeks after the fire.
Maybe you work with objects in quantities of 1.5 million on a regular basis and can easily wrap your head around how big this project was. But if that’s not the case, we’ve crafted some comparisons to help everyone visualize the scope of the situation.
If each item measures 10 inches long and there are 5,280 feet in a mile, then all of Hale Library’s 1.5 million collection items laid end-to-end would stretch from Manhattan to Tulsa, Okla.
So how did this massive pack-out all start? The first things to leave Hale Library after the May 22 fire were the wet materials in Room 117.
Those 4,000 boxes of wet books were shipped in refrigerated trucks to a Belfor preservation lab in Ft. Worth, Tex. The materials were freeze-dried, cleaned and treated with ozone. More than ninety percent were deemed salvageable.
After the wet books were safely out of the building, volumes from second, third and fourth floors were packed up.
The last items to leave Hale Library came out of the Richard L. D. & Marjorie Morse Department of Special Collections on the fifth floor.
So from beginning to end, the pack-out started in late May on the hot, humid first floor, and it ended in late September in a chilly, air-conditioned Stack H, just above Hale Library’s fourth floor.
Kathryn Talbot, K-State Libraries’ preservation coordinator, at work in the stacks. July 5, 2018.
Does that give you a better idea of how big this project was? No?
Here’s another story problem: If 15 books fit in each box, and 40 boxes were stacked on one pallet, and 24 pallets were packed onto every truckload that left Hale Library, then the 1.5 million items required 104 semi trucks.
Until Hale Library is renovated, all of the books—approximately 147,400 boxes of them—will be stored in four different air-conditioned warehouses across the region. Because of the soot damage, books will be individually cleaned, re-boxed and stored until they can be returned to campus.
It is a huge relief to have the entire collection safely out of the building and know that it will come home to a new, improved Hale Library.
Thank you to everyone who worked on this project. We hope you can take a few days off to catch your breath: You deserve a break before you start planning how we’ll move it all back!
Original infographics created by Katherine Kistler, K-State Libraries graphic design student employee.
As we walk across campus, we’re often stopped by fellow K-Staters and asked, “So how are you all doing?” Truly, we’ve appreciated the expressions of concern for the 100+ displaced Hale Library folks.
On that note, we thought we’d catch up with four of our co-workers who share a combined 80 years of experience with K-State Libraries.
After all of the computers and printers were lost in the fire, Renee Gates was responsible for getting more than 90 employees set up with new technology. She and her team also travel between a dozen different buildings on campus to make sure everything continues to work smoothly.
Renee, two of the four staff members on your team left Manhattan to pursue new job opportunities this summer. How are you doing?
“Everybody has been really nice and patient with us. They understand we are short-staffed.
In addition to getting everyone set up on new technology, we’re doing a lot of inventory of the tech that was in an area of Hale Library that was declared clean or cleanable. Everything has to be plugged in and tested to make sure it works. Some things don’t because of internal issues like the effects of condensation.
After the fire, I think in many ways our department had it a lot easier than other people. We had the most to do initially, but we were connected, we knew what was going on, and we had purpose. I think there was a lot more anxiety for people who weren’t as busy as we were. So that busyness helped get us through.
I love that we have space in Seaton Hall that is just our LIST staff and we can easily talk to each other without disturbing anyone else. I miss everybody from the library, though.”
Dan, what do you remember about the day of the fire?
“I was in my office, and my 15-year-old son was with me because he was out early that day and doing homework on a computer. We had this history in Hale Library that the fire alarms were sensitive to dust. One summer it seemed like a fire alarm went off every week. So the alarm goes off and it’s like, ‘Eh, okay, well… it’s the end of the day.’ So I scooped up my stuff. And I remember thinking so clearly, ‘Do I need my laptop tonight? Nah, I’ll get it in the morning,’ and I left it and we went home.
An hour later, I’m hearing from people, ‘Did you see the fire?’ And I was like, ‘There was an actual fire?!’ I went back, and people were hanging around outside. Somebody had ordered pizza, and we watched sheets of water cascade down the side of the building and into Mid-Campus Drive.”
What’s different about your job since you aren’t working out of Hale Library?
“A couple of librarians and I have gotten office spaces within our respective disciplines, so I am in in Nichols Hall with the Theater Department. I’ve tried to become more entrenched with their faculty and students, and that’s been great. I see them every day, and it’s very easy for them to find me and for me to be a resource for them because I’m physically there right now.
The thing I miss most are the collections, though. For example, theater is very practice-based. A lot of it is producing creative works based off of scripts and physical materials. While there are some fantastic online resources, it’s left a hole for my students when they go looking for scripts. You really want something physical in your hands for that, even when you’re trying to select scenes.”
How has your job changed?
“Part of our work is to make sure that when a K-Stater is off-campus that they can access all of the databases and online resources that the Libraries pay for by simply signing in with their K-State username and password.
The proxy system that makes that happen seamlessly was lost when the servers had to be taken offline after the fire. Fortunately, the Libraries’ IT department had been preparing to move the system to the cloud, so they were able to have up a new version within just a few days. Once it was rebuilt, our team spent the summer making sure that the new proxy system was working for hundreds of online resources. These materials are especially important now since the physical collection isn’t available. We’ve been very, very busy.”
This isn’t your first time working out of the Unger Complex, is it?
“Three of us were located in this exact same office when Hale Library was being built in the ’90s. Everyone here has been really friendly and helpful, and whatever we need they try to make it happen. It’s just kind of weird déjà vu!”
What do you remember from the day of the fire?
“The fire alarm went off at 3:58, and we just thought it was a normal fire alarm, so I picked up my purse and went to my exercise class. When we got out, we could smell smoke and hear the sirens. People were going ‘Yeah, the library is on fire.’ Then I got home and had all these messages on my answering machine, asking if I was okay.
After the fire, I emailed each patron that had anything checked out. What was great was that a lot of people emailed back, and they were so supportive. That was the really nice thing: I had a lot of personal contact with patrons on email.”
How is life different now?
“I miss seeing all of the people that I worked with on a daily basis. I mean, I still go over to the union and see people but it’s different. I miss walking around in the stacks, seeing the actual books and seeing the students. I am excited about seeing the new Hale Library, though! I’m close to retiring, so this gives me a new reason to work long enough to see what the new Hale is going to look like.”
Like Carolyn, we are all excited to see what the future of Hale Library holds. We’re reminded, too, that libraries aren’t just about buildings—they’re about the people who work there, the people who use them and the people who believe in their value.
We know our blog readers fall into one or all of those categories. Thank you!
Interviews were conducted and transcribed by communication student employee Rebekah Branch. Transcriptions were edited for clarity and brevity.
We’ve witnessed a lot of things go down on the fourth floor of Hale Library over the years: students camping under tables with blankets and pillows during finals week; physical anthropology study sessions that featured skeletons and piles of bones; and, well, let’s be honest, we’ve seen some fourth-floor stacks activities we wish we hadn’t.
But we’ve never seen fourth floor as a woodworking shop … until now. A lot of materials — like the entire physical library collection and one of the murals — have been packed out so they can be cleaned and stored until Hale Library renovations are complete.
The Great Room woodwork is staying, though. Crews are cleaning and stripping the beams. Eventually, they’ll be refinished, and when the roof and ceiling are repaired and the space is ready for renovation, the beams will be reinstalled.
Crew members from John Canning Co. clean and remove varnish from two decorative arch braces that hung in the Great Room.
Meanwhile, back in the Great Room, conservators continue to monitor and stabilize the David Hicks Overmyer murals.
Additional mural restoration is on hold until two things happen: First, the plaster walls need to be more thoroughly dried out, and second, the rest of the Great Room restoration needs to be more advanced so that the murals aren’t re-damaged during that process.
To prevent the murals from getting damaged while the rest of the Great Room is renovated, conservators have covered them with a felt-like fabric that’s attached to a tack strip that runs around the perimeter of each painting.
Up above the murals, the Great Room’s decorative woodwork has been removed, and the ceiling has been completely torn out. Crews from Hutton Construction are moving in to start replacing the roof and ceiling in the 1927 building.
Elsewhere in Hale Library, most of the recent action has centered on cleaning toxic soot from all surfaces and scraping up the carpet glue. Since that process is nearly complete, the size of the Belfor Property Restoration crew has been scaled down.
Even though the Belfor folks are starting to leave Manhattan, they aren’t taking a break: As organizations across the Carolinas assess the devastation wrought by Hurricane Florence, Belfor will be on the ground with their massive semi-truck command center and their amazing people. We wish them a safe assignment as they begin recovery efforts there.
It’s been eighteen weeks of damage assessment and drying out, packing collections and planning. The space is a clean slate, and in forthcoming posts we’ll be able share a lot more about the Hale Library of the future.
We have only shared a small percentage of the thousands of photos that have been taken of Hale Library since May 22. This week we wanted to share a few more that are meaningful to us. Some are powerful illustrations of the reality of the devastation inside the building; others show how far we’ve come in the recovery process.
We’ve also included a few that are laden with memories and our hope for the future of Hale Library.
There’s one aspect of the recovery that’s hard to get across in these blog posts: It’s dark in there! We share photos that are as well-lit as possible, but in those instances, the light source isn’t Hale Library’s lights; they’re either natural light from the windows or temporary lighting.
The electrical infrastructure was seriously compromised, so the building is operating off of temporary construction power supplied by portable units rather than “house power.” As soon as you walk away from a space that’s lit up with construction lights … you’re in the dark. More than once the power has gone out on the workers removing the books from the stacks.
Fortunately, the building is nearly empty now. We’ve come a long way in the last sixteen weeks. The majority of the collection has been packed out, the duct work is completely clean, and the process of removing soot from all other hard surfaces is nearly complete.
Our services have been successfully relocated, too.
The reserves collection, which includes a lot of textbooks, was located behind Library Help on the second floor. Now students can access reserves at branch libraries and the new Library Help Desk at the K-State Student Union.
These days, the IT Help Desk is up and running in the Cat’s Pause Lounge on the top floor of K-State Student Union.
And those two sodden and sad locations in the photos above? They’re awaiting their next act!
The Harry Potter Room.
If you’ve been on campus since the first Potter film came out in 2001, you probably know what we’re talking about. The Great Room has inspired comparisons to the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies for nearly two decades. More than one student has said that just being there made them feel smarter and more focused.
Post-fire, it looked as if the Harry Potter Room had a brush with some dark magic.
These days, it’s gratifying to see the space wiped clean and buzzing with activity. We’re moving forward, and the team of conservators, architects, construction workers and craftspeople executing the recovery and restoration plan are wizards at what they do.
Here’s a less-known Potter-themed room for any die-hard fans out there. Room 117 on Hale Library’s ground floor was not a well-trafficked space. It was home to rows and rows of moveable compact shelving.
Those who took time to uncover the library’s secrets, though, were aware that Room 117 was generally cooler when the rest of the building was hot, warmer when the rest of the building was cold, nearly always quiet and usually had vacant tables next to some enormous banks of windows. No space in the library, save perhaps the Great Room, offered more beautiful natural light.
How is all of this Potter-themed?
A few of our student employees dubbed it “The Room of Requirement.” It always had what you needed. We can’t wait to see what need the Room of Requirement—and all of these now-empty spaces—fills in its next life.
Librarians are pretty obsessive about tracking everything in their collections. It’s all meticulously cataloged, which allows us to identify where each item is at any given point in time, who has it, and when it’s coming back.
Cataloguing pieces of a mural? The oak beams from the Great Room? A 50-pound solid oak acorn finial? That’s a little out of our wheelhouse.
Fortunately, John Canning Company is in charge of disassembling Historic Farrell Library so it can be put back together better than ever. We’re confident that there will be no Humpty Dumpty situations on their watch.
Let’s set the scene: There’s a coupla big ol’ holes in Farrell Library. Charred, scary holes that have been covered by a temporary roof.
Below that, you have the dance floor. That’s what they call the temporary plywood floor built on top of the metal scaffolding that fills the entire Great Room. We don’t want to keep those holes, so the dance floor gives workers access to the ceiling where they can begin the process of removing the fire debris to replace the ceiling and roof.
Workers are carefully taking down the woodwork that lends the Great Room much of its historic character. It’s a little like high-stakes Jenga: Removing, labeling and relocating each piece of wood is a delicate process.
When Farrell Library is sporting a new ceiling and roof sans holes, it will be time to reverse-Jenga all of that woodwork. We can’t wait to see it back where it belongs!
Over in the Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, librarians have been going hands-on to pack out the Libraries’ unique research collections and rare materials. This area of the building mainly experienced smoke damage, and we initially hoped the books and other holdings could be cleaned on site. It’s become clear, though, that in order to keep them safe, everything needs to be transported to secure, reliably conditioned space.
“We should have everything out before the end of September,” said Associate Dean of Libraries Mike Haddock. “It’s been a slow process, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The remaining special collections materials will join the 140,000 boxes that have already been sent to one of the three offsite storage facilities we’ve contracted to keep everything safe. The newest location in our stable of stables is one of Underground Archive & Storage’s facilities, a former limestone mine in Kansas City, Mo.
Now, it might not have been the first thing on everyone’s mind after the fire, but we had materials on order that arrived over the summer. We were a little busy, and we weren’t able to make those available … until now!
NEW K-State Libraries materials that were destined for Hale Library are being held in Seaton Hall. You can visit Library Help in the Union and ask for the item you want in person; we’ll retrieve it on the spot. Alternately, you can make your request through our website and specify which library help desk you’d like to pick your item up at.
And, as we look to the future, we continue our work with the architects from PGAV. They recently completed “like-for-like drawings”: PGAV determined what the building looked like right before the fire. Now those drawings go to a contractor who assigns what the replacement costs would be if we were to rebuild Hale Library as it was. These are essential steps that have to happen before the various parties involved assign a dollar amount to the total damages. Only after that is completed will we know how much K-State will receive from the insurance companies.
Until then, if you ever have questions you’d like us to address in this blog, please comment below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And to everyone who has been following along with us on this journey, thank you! Your comments and words of encouragement mean the world to us!
Maybe you’ve never seen it. The “We Are the Dream” mural on the fourth floor of Hale Library is not heavily trafficked, but it’s an important record of the struggle of K-State’s underrepresented students to be seen and heard.
“We Are the Dream,” which was sponsored by the Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos de Aztlan (MEChA, a Hispanic student group), and the Native American Indian Student Body, was painted and dedicated in 1980. At that time, it was a striking focal point in the Minorities Resources/Research Center. In recent years, the space has served as the Academic Learning Center, a daytime study location for student athletes.
This summer, the “We Are the Dream” mural was damaged in the May 22 fire, along with the rest of the building. In fact, the Academic Learning Center staff, led by Liane Fowler, assistant director of Student Academic Services, was the first to smell the smoke in their space directly in front of the painting.
Their area is located on the opposite side of the wall from the Great Room Murals, so the two works of art have undergone some of the same challenges. Both suffered from significant water damage and soiling, and it is imperative that the the wall between them dries out. The “We Are the Dream” mural had mold trapped behind it: While the images are beautiful, the paint created a barrier that inhibited the moisture from escaping.
Rachel Gilberti, the chief conservator at John Canning Company, has been working with the damaged mural since June 22, after her company was contacted by Julia Mathias Manglitz, the preservation architect with TreanorHL.
“The ‘We Are the Dream’ mural is painted on burlap that was incorporated in the original 1927 building construction, so that’s been there for a long time,” Gilberti said. “When they made the mural in the early ’80s, they came in and painted over everything that was existing. So, in reality, that surface was never really prepared for a painting.”
“Another challenge is that we have multiple types of adhesives going on behind the burlap. There’s the original adhesive used when the burlap was installed, and over the years, as the seams started coming apart, they started injecting other adhesives on the seams. There are 15 pieces of burlap, so a lot of the seams have a different type of adhesive, and each type reacts differently.”
Gilberti and her conservation associates have removed each section of burlap from the wall, which will allow air to reach the wall behind the painting and dry it out.
The “We are the Dream” mural has been moved in pieces to another floor in the library and spread on tables so the conservationists can clean them.
However, the Libraries administration’s hope that the mural won’t remain in pieces. It will be safely stored by John Canning Company in a climate-controlled space until it can be reinstalled in a clean, renovated Hale Library.
“They are salvageable,” Gilberti said. “Every piece of art is salvageable. It’s not one of those things. Conservators are here for exactly that reason, to salvage the artwork and preserve what the original artist’s intent is. So they will be saved.”
When asked about the “We Are the Dream” mural, Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch noted that it’s an important part of K-State’s cultural history.
“We love having it as part of Hale Library and look forward to its restoration,” she said. “The fact that this mural celebrates diversity and progress at K-State makes it an important piece of work to be treated with respect and preserved as well as it can be.”
The mural has been an important symbol to many K-Staters over the years. In May 1993, students gathered around the mural to mourn the death of Hispanic activist and leader Cesar Chavez, who is pictured in the painting.
The Kansas State Collegian reported that members of HALO, (Hispanic American Leadership Organization), sang, listened to music and talked about Chavez’s impact on their lives in front of the “We Are the Dream” mural.
Elsa Diaz, the president of HALO at that time, said the mural is significant to minorities on campus because it is the only thing on campus that can give them a sense of belonging. “The mural means a lot to a number of people,” Diaz said. “It is important to people who want to come and worship their heroes.”
The Great Room murals, painted in 1934 by David Hicks Overmyer, are the most iconic works of art on the K-State campus
During the fire, some of the most serious damage occurred in the Great Room ceiling immediately above the murals. Water from both the sprinkler system and from the firefighting efforts on the roof saturated the wall and dripped over the surface of the paintings. Then, in the following days, the plaster and masonry wall behind the mural absorbed a large amount of water that was still flowing through the building.
Since early June, the future of the Great Room and its murals have been in the hands of Julia Mathias Manglitz, preservation architect with TreanorHL.
Manglitz examined the murals post-fire. At that time, she worked from a lift to document soiling and streaking on the paintings that resulted from sap running from wood trim directly above. The murals were also stained by dirty water that came from the attic. Additionally, Manglitz discovered areas where paint was cracking and areas that were already exhibiting very small areas of paint loss.
When public information officer Darchelle Martin spoke with Manglitz in late July, Manglitz explained that the murals are painted directly on plaster that is attached directly to the masonry walls. In other words, the paint needs to adhere to the plaster, and the plaster needs to adhere to the walls.
“If we lose the plaster, we’ve lost the paintings as well,” Manglitz said. “So I inspected the murals as closely as I could by doing what’s called ‘sounding.’ When we work with materials like plaster and stone, we tap on them with a rubber mallet, and depending on what sound comes back to us, we can tell if something is well-bonded. Hollow sounding plaster is an indication that layers of plaster are starting to delaminate from each other or from the masonry. On my initial evaluation, even though I wasn’t seeing plaster coming away from the walls except in small areas, what I found were large areas that sounded hollow.”
Between concerns for paint loss and the potential for plaster loss, Manglitz decided to contact a conservation contractor as quickly as possible. Based on her experience working with John Canning Company on the extensive renovation and restoration of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, she recommended they be brought onto the project.
Rachel Gilberti, chief conservator at John Canning, has been working in Hale Library since June 22.
Once Gilberti joined the project, more intensive mapping of the mural damage began. By this time, scaffolding had been erected so they could finally make a thorough, up-close examination. They discovered small areas of plaster deformation where it was starting to delaminate from the wall. Other areas of the paint were marked by a fine pattern of dense cracking called craquelure.
“Water escapes through the cracks, which is a good thing, but sometimes the paint can come off, too,” Manglitz said.
Gilberti also noted that it’s important that the wall needs to dry at a stable rate. “If it starts to dry too quickly, the layers begin to separate from one another,” she said. “It’s also important to have the wall dry from both sides and meet in the middle. If it dries just from the back, all of the salts in the stone get pulled into the front and the material on the surface of the stone will come out.”
It could be a long time before the walls are thoroughly dry.
“The walls are fourteen inches thick, and the general rule of thumb for drying mass masonry is one inch per month,” Manglitz said. “That said, it doesn’t have to be perfectly dry before we start the conservation process to visually restore the appearance, but we needed to get it to the point where we feel like it’s safe.”
When the wall started to dry, additional small areas of paint began to flake off. Gilberti and her team began a triage campaign to repair small areas of damage and prevent others from worsening.
They used syringes to insert thermoplastic adhesive where they found paint cracking and peeling. Once the adhesive seeped in, they placed a clear piece of mylar over it and heated it with a small iron to get it to set. The process helped them keep the paint layer in place and on the wall.
As they monitored the drying-out process and addressed the paint delamination, they noted that different colors of paint reacted differently.
“Each color, each pigment in itself has unique traits,” Gilberti said. “Some pigments have less binding in them. All the reds in general are more sensitive pigments, so they react differently, especially to water. Greens are also very sensitive. White is a very stable pigment, so paints mixed with white did very well. The ones that don’t have that extra binding power are what we tried to stop from flaking with the thermoplastic adhesive.”
Since the beginning of their efforts to preserve the murals, Manglitz and her team have been collecting data regarding how wet the walls are. Initially, they could only take measurements at the surface, but since then, they’ve inserted probes seven inches or eight inches into the masonry to determine the moisture levels inside the walls.
“Once we determined that the easternmost mural, Industry, was dry and stable enough, we were able to do a surface cleaning to remove the drips from the wood trim above without having paint actively flake off,” Gilberti said. “After that we began removing the varnish coating.”
The protective varnish was applied the last time the murals were cleaned and restored in 2011. Stripping that layer will increase the breathability of the wall.
As the process of stabilizing, drying, cleaning and stripping the murals of varnish continues, Manglitz and her team have several important questions to weigh regarding next steps.
“We need to decide when it’s appropriate to do the conservation work on the murals given amount of repair that has to be completed in the rest of the space and above this space,” she said. “Roof repairs come with the risk of water infiltration, so we’ll be asking ourselves, ‘What can we do to protect the murals? When do we think it’s appropriate to move forward with conservation? What should the sequence be?’”
Even though those questions haven’t been fully answered yet, Gilberti is confident that they will find a way forward to ensure the future of the Great Room murals.
“Every piece of art is salvageable,” she said. “Conservators are here for exactly that reason, to salvage the artwork and preserve what the original artist’s intent is. It’s not one of those situations where they’re going to disappear: They will be saved. We’ve just got to assess as we go. The murals will have damage, but we are here to mitigate that.”
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