Luther College Chips

Farwell and Larsen undergo construction

Farwell+Hall+and+Larsen+Hall+faced+moisture+problems+that+required+maintenance.
Farwell Hall and Larsen Hall faced moisture problems that required maintenance.

Farwell Hall and Larsen Hall faced moisture problems that required maintenance.

Photo courtesy of Leah Benzing

Photo courtesy of Leah Benzing

Farwell Hall and Larsen Hall faced moisture problems that required maintenance.

Martin Donovan, Staff Writer

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Farwell and Larsen Halls underwent repairs this past summer, primarily to address moisture problems. The repairs done on the two residence halls are referred to as tuckpointing, which is a technique that uses mortar to fill in eroded spaces between bricks.

“Even though you think a brick wall prevents moisture getting in, it really doesn’t,” Director of Facilities Services Jay Uthoff said. “Moisture will get in and it has to have a way to come out. So they typically build flashings that help direct that moisture out at various levels of the wall.”

However, as Merit Contracting removed bricks on Farwell, they noticed that there was some erosion of the bridge’s supports.

“I know the repairs on the bridge was definitely a safety concern,” Interim Farwell Area Coordinator Kjerstin Nelson (‘18) said. “Not because it was in danger of being a safety hazard, but they just noticed that it was eroding just a little bit so they wanted to fix it before anything got worse.”

The repairing of the bridge — which occurred during August — postponed the construction as Merit focused their attention on the bridge rather than tuckpointing.

“We probably had maybe a month overall were we weren’t doing any work outside of [repairing the bridge],” Uthoff said. “[If] we would have been able to work right around it without the bridge, we would have been done and out of there before classes started.”

Additionally, the rain and hot weather during the summer contributed to the delayed repairs.

Nelson noted that while the delays are inconvenient for some residents, Facilities Services could not plan for the setbacks.

Photo courtesy of Leah Benzing
Farwell Hall is still under construction.

“I would stand by facilities and I think they were doing a lot of really good work on it,” Nelson said. “Granted the project was taking longer than it was estimated to take, so I think some people are a little discontent that the project was not finished before the school year was started. But [we] could not really plan until [we] got to the root of the problem.”

Uthoff and Campus Services Project Manager Leah Benzing estimated that the total costs for Farwell will be around $2 million, while the tuckpointing on Larsen will be slightly over $100,000. Facilities Services has a working list of potential repairs for campus buildings, but the future projects will not be finalized until next spring.

“We have over 1.5 million square feet and the buildings are aging in place,” Uthoff said. “As everything ages, things start to show their age and you need to take care of them. If we look at our deferred maintenance list overall it’s like $15 million and it just grows every year because things age out in place.”

Besides the exterior repairs, Luther put new furniture into Farwell’s center clusters. There are also plans for future interior improvements, which Luther will begin next academic year by replacing dressers, wardrobes, and beds in Farwell. 

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