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Ups and downs in the Broadway Performance Hall

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Students and faculty with classes in the Broadway Performance Hall were surprised to learn on the first day of Winter Quarter that the only elevator in that building was shut down for maintenance. Disability Services were made aware the same day, and so far a solution for accommodating students and staff with disabilities is still being worked on. A cross departmental group, comprised of students services, BPH staff, and security, are working to problem solve what may be a long term maintenance project. According to Darell Jamieson, Broadway Performance Hall Manager, “There are several ways to get to the lower floors and the theatre level on the top floor, but the elevator is the only one that does not have stairs, so ADA accessibility is pretty limited for the time being.”

The Broadway Performance Hall is often utilized as a performance and meeting venue by both Seattle Central College and external agencies. Broadway Performance Hall was built in 1911, as part of Broadway High School. After the last graduating class left Broadway High School in 1946, the building was utilized by the Edison Technical School until being absorbed by Seattle Central College in 1966. Originally slated to be demolished, pressure from neighborhood groups helped see the original building restored, including removing sandstone to expose the original brick, and the auditorium was remodeled and modernized.

Over the break between Fall and Winter Quarters, The BPH elevator had an annual inspection which led to the discovery of water in the elevator pit, as well as rust on several mechanical elements of the elevator. The rust appears to be minor, however, Seattle Central has a zero risk rust acceptance level for the safety of all who utilize the campus. Hence, all of the elevator parts with rust are being replaced. 

According to David Ernevad, Director of Facilities Operations and Capital Projects, the total cost for all the work to repair the elevator and bring into full code compliance is $75,000. “Approximately $21,000 of this cost is an elevator pit sealing process. This is the critical path element, as we can’t replace all these parts without confidence that the root problem is solved.” This process is further slowed by the difficulty in finding an external contractor for this difficult task. Seattle Central has been unable to find any state, county, or municipal contract; such a contract would prevent a competitive contract process. Because this is such a specialized issue, the choice is to hope an affordable contractor can do the work or order the parts from alternate sources, which would delay repairs by several months.

Ernevad stated, “My optimistic time line for elevator service restoration is the start of Spring Quarter. My pessimistic estimate is the start of the Summer Quarter. Part of my pessimism stems from recently learning the pit was sealed approximately 20 years ago. Having been sealed previously complicates sealing the pit now, as they inject material below the concrete pit and seal from the soil side. With sealant product already in place, the material structure of the pit is more complicated.  With some luck, the sealing will work first time without fail, but these water intrusion issues can sometimes be difficult as water has an amazing way of finding a path to where it wants to go.”   

Broadway Performance Hall has an alternate entrance on the Harvard side of the plaza, which has two steps outside and a four step staircase inside to reach downstairs classrooms. Although this entrance is normally kept locked and used as an emergency exit, Security and DSS are creating plans to have it unlocked for students who need it. Cebrina Chavez, Director of Disability Support Services, is working with the Accessibility Committee to ensure students can be accommodated, especially if repairs continue through Spring Quarter. The steepness of the steps is already causing difficulty for a number of students. McClain High, who is taking Group Voice downstairs in The BPH building, says, “People like me who have depth perception issues and other disabilities rely on the elevator for safety.” Hopefully, the cross departmental efforts and students remaining vocal about their concerns will help resolve these issues sooner rather than later.

Morgan is a Seattle Central alumni currently attending Oregon State University where she is majoring in Anthropology. In addition to writing, she enjoys painting and linguistics. She lives in a very small house with a very fat cat.

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