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Ceiling Collapses at UCSB

Officials Unsure What Caused Accident


UCSB building officials are investigating the first floor collapse of a suspended ceiling in the lobby area outside one of two elevator entrances at Bren Hall.

At around 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the suspended ceiling, estimated to be 25 by 25 feet and weighing 4,000 pounds, came down. No one was injured in the collapse and everyone in the building was evacuated safely. The building will be closed until officials have assessed the safety of all suspended ceilings outside both elevators on all four floors of the building.

UCSB officials are still investigating  why the inch-long shot pins fastened to a concrete deck came loose.
Click to enlarge photo

Rhys Alvarado

UCSB officials are still investigating why the inch-long shot pins fastened to a concrete deck came loose.

The suspended plaster ceilings outside both elevators on all four floors of the building are fastened using wires and inch-long shot pins mounted to a concrete deck.

John Wolever, design and construction manager at UCSB, has also discovered that some shot pins used on the first and second floor ceilings outside the entrance of the building’s other elevator have been disconnected from the concrete deck.

Wolever confirmed that the suspended ceilings were installed using typical procedure.

“I’ve never seen a failure like this in my 39 years of construction experience,” Wolever said. “At this point, we don’t have any information that would suggest why it failed.”

UCSB Design and Construction Manager John Wolever holds up a wire that connected the suspended ceiling to a concrete deck.
Click to enlarge photo

Rhys Alvarado

UCSB Design and Construction Manager John Wolever holds up a wire that connected the suspended ceiling to a concrete deck.

Wolever said that he could not find any correlation between leaking ceilings, which he noticed in other areas of the building, and the Saturday afternoon collapse.

The construction of Bren Hall was completed in 2002 by Soltek Pacific Construction Company, which has also led construction of the Life Sciences Building and renovations to the De La Guerra Dining Commons, Wolever said.

In 2002, the building, which houses the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, was recognized as the “greenest” laboratory in the United States after it was completed. In 2009, the building was the first to receive a second LEED Platinum certification for recognition of maintenance and operations of an existing building.

Faculty, staff, and students were given until noon on Monday to retrieve their belongings. Officials hope that the building will be reopened on Wednesday.

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