An engineering investigation determined that the collapse of a portion of Bren Hall’s ceiling last October was due to faulty ceiling suspension anchors.On Oct. 30 of last year, a 4,000-pound concrete segment of the building’s ceiling — measuring 20 by 25 feet across — collapsed in the exterior lobby area. An analysis of the accident ultimately revealed that several of the building’s structural wires were not taut and that suspension anchors were installed incorrectly in the ceiling prior to the building’s opening in 2002. Although no one was harmed by the ceiling’s downfall, the building had to be closed for two days afterward.
Shortly after opening nearly a decade ago, Bren Hall, which houses the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, was recognized as the first laboratory structure in the nation to acquire platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). It was recognized again by the LEED council in 2009, making it the first two-time recipient of platinum certification, the highest rating for sustainable design. The Soltek Pacific Construction Company that built Bren Hall also constructed the Life Sciences Building and performed renovations to the De la Guerra Dining Commons.
However, architectural safety is not one of the five categories examined by the LEED committee. Contractors say there is no discernable link between the building’s sustainable design and its architectural failures.
Design & Construction Services Director Jack Wolever said ceiling defects produced an unbalanced weight distribution that provoked the roof cave-in. All other suspensions with the same design in Bren will be removed and replaced with new plaster ceilings this summer.
The full report of the investigation can be accessed at http://facilities.ucsb.edu/departments/dcs/default.asp.