Part of West Duke ceiling collapses
This story was updated 11:22 p.m. Wednesday to reflect new information.
The ceiling of a room in the West Duke building collapsed on East Campus Wednesday afternoon.
Room 202 was unoccupied on at the time of the collapse, at approximately 12:40 p.m. Students were in the room shortly before it collapsed and heard noises coming from the ceiling tiles, left the room and alerted the Facilities Management office. There were no injuries in the incident, said Emergency Coordinator Kyle Cavanaugh, but the building was evacuated by police to exercise caution. Classes located in West Duke have been relocated elsewhere, and a structural engineer has examined the building for any evidence of why the accident took place.
“From an emergency management protocol, when we have something like this, we want to make sure there were no injuries and thank goodness we didn’t have any,” Cavanaugh said. “That was the very first thing we wanted to make sure of, and everyone was safely escorted from the building.”
Cavanaugh did not have additional information about what may have caused the collapse. The structural engineers will continue to inspect West Duke and will be able to make an evaluation later this week. He noted that he has not witnessed any previous issues with the structures of either the West Duke or East Duke buildings.
“We were told we would know something more from a facilities standpoint by Friday afternoon,” he said. “[The engineers] are trying to determine the root cause and things that should be done.”
Maintenance crews in hard hats surrounded the building after the collapse, allowing people to go in one at a time to retrieve their belongings, said Michaela Dwyer, Trinity '13 and a Stephen and Janet Bear postgraduate fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. Dwyer, a former Recess editor for The Chronicle, works in West Duke but was off campus at the time of the collapse. She said her colleagues, most of whom were in the building at the time, were evacuated even though they are on the first floor of the building and the collapse was on the second.
Cavanaugh noted the building will likely be closed off through the weekend, and potentially longer. It is unknown at this point what measures will be necessary, he said.
Kenan expects its employees to be working from home until at least Sunday, Dwyer said.
Erin McInerney, a junior who normally has a class at 1:25 p.m. in West Duke 202, said she was blocked off from the building when she tried to approach and informed by authorities that the building had been evacuated. Her class then spent about 15 minutes trying to locate another classroom for them to use for the remainder of the period.
Forty-nine different courses are normally housed in West Duke throughout the week. All of them have been temporarily relocated by the registrar’s office, and their alternative locations are posted on the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences website.
“The registrar’s office has been phenomenal at relocating all the classes that have been scheduled there for Thursday and Friday,” Cavanaugh said. “They’ve been putting together a host of communications strategies.”
The student body was also notified of the classroom changes and the collapse via an email Wednesday night by Lee Baker, dean of academic affairs for Trinity College.Elizabeth Djinis contributed reporting.