More than 25 students forced out of Gibbs Hall

A portion of Gibbs Hall is expected to remain closed until fall 2020.
Photo Submitted by Alychia Cole.

Maintenance workers went to Gibbs Hall on Thursday to assess a leak in the north wing of the ground floor.

It turned out to be more than a leak. They found signs of structural damage on the ground floor of Gibbs Hall. As a result, more than 25 students have been forced to relocate.

Gibbs Hall was built in 1955 in honor of Thomas Gibbs. It was last renovated in 1989 and houses about 305 male and female students.

“While our maintenance team was addressing a leak, they noticed some structural spalling. We got our project team to determine the extent of the damage. Fifteen rooms were affected. We got with our housing director and relocated the students.” Sameer Kapileshwari, associate vice president for facilities, planning, construction, and safety, told members of the Board of Trustees on Thursday.

Spalling is found in buildings where water causes the foundation to break into fragments causing a structural hazard.

The initial damage was reported last month and is still said to be affecting only the ground floor. The housing department has reassured residents on the other floors of the dorm that they are not affected, so the dorm still houses more than 200 students.

Director of the Office of University Budgets at FAMU, Ronica Mathis, received approval on Wednesday for $165,500 for JRA Architects. Mathis hopes JRA Architects is able to effectively estimate the potential costs of repairs to the facility, which are expected to be more than $1 million.

On Friday, students staying on the ground floor were asked to begin transferring to other dorms on campus.

Taylor Harrison, a sophomore music education major moved from Gibbs to Paddyfoote Hall on Saturday.

“It was annoying. After coming home after a long day and wanting to rest, I had to pack up my whole entire room in 12 hours to be moved the very next morning,” Harrison said. "I started moving at 9:30 a.m. and didn’t finish until around 6 p.m."

“When I got home the resident assistant asked if I stayed on the floor that was affected and I said yes. She then said I had to leave as soon a possible. I asked when would I be back because I figured it wouldn’t be that bad and she responded I would not be coming back,” Harrison added.

The Department of Housing and other university officials have decided to keep the ground floor vacant until fall 2020.

The Department of Student Housing said that the students living in FAMU dorms have nothing to worry about and will be doing everything in their power to speed up this ongoing investigation as soon as possible.