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March 13, 2014 Volume 35, No. 23

University Village Apartment Complex to be closed then demolished

Independent engineers to inspect campus buildings

The University of Missouri announced Wednesday that the University Village Apartment Complex will close June 30 and be demolished soon after.

Because demolition would include the complex's Student Parent Center, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin asked that relevant campus organizations begin discussing the feasibility of expanding child day care services on campus. 

Meanwhile, Gary Ward, interim vice chancellor for administrative services, is leading the inspection process of more than 250 campus buildings owned or leased by the University of Missouri, MU administrators said. Independent structural engineers will perform the inspections. 

On Feb. 22, Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw Inc., structural engineering experts not affiliated with MU, inspected every apartment building in University Village and University Heights. The company found no structural deficiencies. However, workers installed wooden vertical supports to some walkways deemed a concern until a permanent solution is put in place.

Inspections of all Residential Life buildings older than 10 years were completed Feb. 23, administrators said. No major problems were found, though some general maintenance issues were discovered and addressed.

The inspections followed the Feb. 22 early-morning accident involving Columbia firefighter Lt. Bruce Britt, who was mortally injured at Building 707 in University Village after responding to a call about a walkway collapse.

Records show that workers inspected the University Village walkways several times over the past few years. Workers have also either completed work to reinforce some walkways or shut down a building deemed unsafe.

Indeed, about 300 custodian and maintenance workers conduct informal inspections daily as part of their routine duties, administrators said. They are expected to notify Campus Facilities of any problems they find. Problems involving safety are addressed immediately. 

Comprehensive audits of each building are done every seven to eight years.

In its report, released publicly along with more than 1,000 pages of MU maintenance documents, Trabue, Hansen & Hinshaw Inc. noted that Building 707’s primary structural steel and support beams did not fail in the walkway collapse. 

Other independent engineers have told MU that it is impossible to know if the collapse could have been predicted.

Of the demolition of the complex, Loftin said Wednesday, "It's important to note that even though we have made this decision, the facilities have been declared safe by licensed, professional engineers."