Good afternoon Hunnewell,
While performing his daily check of the boiler early this morning, Larry Pellegrini, our custodian, noted a problem with the lower section of a 12 inch square column located between the two boilers in the boiler room. The problem Mr. Pellegrini noticed was localized delamination (spalling) in which a chunk of the outer protective face of the concrete had fallen off.
As a result, Mr. Pellegrini contacted Joe McDonough, Facilities Director for the Town of Wellesley, to further inspect the delamination of the column. Mr. McDonough who is a certified structural engineer inspected the damage and confirmed the localized broken (spalled) section of concrete. He also noticed that the newly exposed steel reinforcing bars exhibited signs of corrosion and deterioration. While the deterioration is not insignificant, it is confined to the lower section of the column, and it can be repaired. Also important to note is that he did not observe any cracks or other type of structural issues with any of the concrete slab or beams above, suggesting there was no settlement or related movement of the structure above. Based on these observations and review of the the 1938 design drawings, Mr. McDonough decided it best to exercise caution and close off the classroom above until an independent structural analysis can be performed.
Therefore we have moved Ms. Colangeli’s second grade classroom to the art room for today. After school today, we will move the classroom and all of the necessary learning materials to the learning center (which is the last classroom on the right hand side of the 1938 building before entering the hallway to the modulars) until the repairs can be made.
It is important to keep in mind that this structural condition (exposed concrete column) only occurs in this one location in the Hunnewell. The Boiler Room is the only occupiable space below the classroom level (first floor), so this is the only area where there is an elevated concrete slab supported with a column and beams. The original design drawings show the remainder of the 1938 wing to be a grade beam system (cast on the ground – not elevated ). Furthermore, the harsh exposure conditions that likely caused this deterioration, including high humidity and temperatures from the boiler operations, do not exist anywhere else in the building. Therefore we do not expect to have the same type of deterioration anywhere else in the building.
As for next steps, Mr. McDonough has engaged CBI Consultants to investigate the issue and expedite repairs. He will meet their engineer at the school tomorrow afternoon. I will be able to provide an update on the repairs necessary and the timeline for completion after that meeting.
In the meantime, I met with the 2K/C students this morning and explained that work needed to be completed beneath their room in the boiler room, and so for safety reasons we have moved their classroom. The students did not have many questions and were excited to be moved up into the third grade hallway.
I want to thank Mr. Pellegrini for his commitment to the safe operation of the Hunnewell School. I also want to thank the many teachers and staff who jumped into quick action this morning, so that Ms. Colangeli was ready to teach when the children arrived. It is a true testament to the excellence of the Hunnewell Team.
Again, I will provide updates as we move to resolve this issue. Please contact me if you have any questions.