Hallway undergoes construction

CPS+workers+rope+off+the+area+under+construction+in+the+hallway+connecting+the+south+lot+to+the+rest+of+the+school.+Photo+by+Daphne+Yu

CPS workers rope off the area under construction in the hallway connecting the south lot to the rest of the school. Photo by Daphne Yu

Daphne Yu

CPS workers rope off the area under construction in the hallway connecting the south lot to the rest of the school. Photo by Daphne Yu
CPS workers rope off the area under construction in the hallway connecting the south lot to the rest of the school. Photo by Daphne Yu
The hallway connecting the south lot and the rest of the school will be back in session by tomorrow morning. After administrators found an abnormality in the tiles yesterday morning, Building Services Director Jen Mast and other administrators roped off the area for students’ safety.
Originally, Mast and other officials worried pipe leakage was what caused the lifting of the tiles, but to their relief, found that was not the case.
Instead, the thin set used back in the 1970s is what engineers believe caused the tiles to buckle, Mast said. Although there have been no other problems found in the building, Mast believes the thin set application in that area was done incorrectly.  Instead of applying the thin set in small areas and then placing tiles down immediately after so they would stick, Mast said, it seems the thin set was set out to dry for a longer period of time, and in turn, the tiles did not stick properly.
“The tile that popped didn’t really have good contact with the subsurface when it was laid,” Mast said, and “when you have tiles that aren’t adhered to whatever the subsurface is — in this case, concrete — as long as everything stayed the same and the grout good and solid, you would never know.”
Mast believes the adhesive quality of the grout that goes between the tiles might have helped the tiles stay down for the past 40 years, seeing as after yesterday morning’s discovery, workers found some tiles that had no contact with the thin set whatsoever.
“We just took the tiles off,” Dave Smith said, CPS employee of three years who works with the Carpenter Shop. “And now we’re going to clean it up and put plywood down here and we’re going to put carpet over the plywood for right now until they make a decision. We just want to make it safe.”
As a short fix, construction workers plan to put down plywood and cover it with carpeting, which will be finished later today and funded by Facilities and Construction Services. They have also offered two long-term-fix options for RBHS to choose from. One would be to use a quarry tile that will not match with the rest of the area, or take the white, Vinyl Composition Tiles — VCT — that line the newer south entrance and bring it all the way up through the boys’ bathroom. Both would cost around the same, Mast said.
If RBHS chooses to use the quarry tiling, that would most likely take place during spring break, Mast said, and the VCT tile project would be a summer project. In the meantime, while the issue of why the tiles came loose yesterday is still a mystery, students should not be in any danger.
“Something happened — we don’t what it is — but something happened to cause the pressure to be enough that [the tiles] lifted,” Mast said. “We don’t think it’s a huge structural issue. Engineers have been [here] to look at it … but there is no water, which is good. For now, we’re going to have a carpeted area there that should be fleshed with the floor and safe.”
By Daphne Yu
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