Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Summit Day gets OK

Chief building official approves opening sections after collapse

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HYDE PARK - Cincinnati's chief building official granted permission Tuesday for sections of Summit Country Day School's main building to reopen for the first time since a portion of the east wing collapsed in January.

Plans filed with the city show the school intends to partially occupy the west and central sections. A small portion of the east corridor will be used, but only to access a hallway to an emergency exit, said Bill Langevin, director of the city department of buildings and inspections.

The rest of the east wing still is closed for safety reasons, he added.

"Engineers have thoroughly reviewed the premises and did not find any structural reasons for not allowing occupancy," Langevin said.

No one has moved back in yet, however, and cleanup continues, said Jennifer Pierson, spokeswoman for the private Catholic school.

The high school students will stay at Xavier University the rest of the year, she said, but administrative staff will move back once computer and phone lines are restored.

When asked when the school's investigation into the collapse would wrap up, she said more information would be released toward week's end.

The Jan. 18 collapse occurred during a $10.5 million construction project for a new lower school. No one was hurt because the school was closed.

In a preliminary assessment, Langevin has said that excavation for the project was too deep and too close to the foundation of the main building. Bad weather and a previously undetected difference in the depth of foundations of the portion of the building that toppled likely contributed to the failure, he said.

Summit has brought in a new construction team, engineering experts to investigate the collapse, replaced its architect and engineers and hired firms to monitor air quality and environmental conditions in the main building.

The school kept its principal contractor, Turner Construction Co., but Turner has brought in a new team of senior staff.

Construction recently resumed on the new school, which is to open this fall.

School reopened in late January, with preschool, kindergarten and high school students attending off-campus. First- through eighth- graders returned to class in areas separate from the main building.


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