Bay Area rainfall exposes two leaks in Biology Building

Repair crews have not found permanent solution to problem

By Lorenzo Morotti, Editor-in-Chief

Heavy rainfall over the Thanksgiving weekend collected on the roof of the Biology Building and water leaked at two locations: the hallway and in some labs on Wednesday.

Building and Grounds Manager Bruce King said SW Allen Construction Inc. cut into the roof over the summer to replace walls and install bracings to ensure that the building is seismically sound in case of an earthquake.

Critical Solutions Inc. construction project manager John Leary oversaw the temporary repairs done on Saturday by the contractor that allegedly caused the leaks.

“(The leak) was because a combination of severe rains and the roof not draining as fast as it should have,” Leary said. “ One to two inches of water ponded on the roof and exasperated any potential weak spots left over from the (seismic) retrofit.”

King said while there has not been a permanent solution to the leak, a repair crew from SW Allen Inc., the contractor who won the seismic retrofit bid over the summer at $975,000, successfully installed temporary pads on the roof to further prevent leakage.

Leary said permanent solutions will be started and completed over the winter break when his crews get to the last items on the “punch list” to avoid disturbing classes.

“There were repairs done to the roof that had flaws which caused the leaks,” he said. “The contractor then removed wet or damp materials from the areas before sealing the gaps and full repairs will be made during the break.”

King said SW Allen did not want to take responsibility for the leak initially.

“The contractor blamed clogged storm drains for the leakage and thought the school should shoulder the cost.”

Water leaked through the roof at two areas in the building where retrofits where done to connect the sheer walls and the roof which were not connected prior. 

Two large beams were installed from one exterior wall to the next above existing walls over B-12 and B-21.

Another was put into place above the prep room and office in between B-37 and B-39. The beam stretches across the hallway into the biotechnology and biology labs.

Leary said RGA Environmental, a consultant firm out of Emeryville, suggested the temporary solution to the leaky roof.

It was built in 1960 according to a Thornton Tomasetti Inc. Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit Studies in November 2010.