Glass: Engineers confident Assembly Hall will be cleared for next home game

Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said that university and external engineers confirmed Wednesday the cause of the falling of a 50-pound plate from the top of the Assembly Hall wall on Tuesday afternoon and that those engineers told him they were confident the arena will be cleared to be fully used well before the Hoosiers’ next home game on March 2 against Ohio State.

He said tonight’s 7 p.m. Indiana women’s basketball home game with Michigan is still on, though the bleachers behind the baseline have been pushed back and the sections in the corners of the arena have been roped off. He said Indiana has not yet determined a time to reschedule Tuesday’s postponed game against No. 15 Iowa but said that he is still confident the decision will be finalized within the 72-hour window provided by the Big Ten. He neither confirmed nor denied that Indiana would be shooting to try to reschedule the game on Feb. 27 — which would seem to be the most feasible window for both clubs — but indicated that he believed the Hall would be ready for that.

“I don’t want to speculate on the date because I’m really not involved in those conversations,” Glass said in a press conference Wednesday. “But I do think that the engineers believe that the building will be ready well before the Ohio State game.”

Glass said the engineers confirmed that there were no other causes to the plate falling other than the original hypothesis, which was that the ceiling flexed under the weight of the substantial snow and ice that had accumulated on the roof this winter. The roof, which is held on suspension cables, is designed to flex and has a curvature in it by design, but the roof flexed to the greatest degree they believe it ever has, and that caused the plate to pop out of place.

“All that pressure went to where that plate was,” Glass said, “and essentially popped it off, which is a flaw in a variety of ways, but a targeted, unique event. We do believe that we understand the cause and that it is largely limited to the plates that bear the full brunt of that snow.”

Glass said the engineers also found that there were “two or three” other plates that were also loose, but Glass stressed that they were not in imminent danger of falling. Like the plate that fell, he said they were at points in the roof that were at the lowest point in the curvature. He said the engineers did a complete structural assessment of the roof itself and found no issues there.

What the engineers are currently determining, Glass said, is what to do about those plates. Glass said on Tuesday night that he was told the plates were “entirely ornamental,” and don’t serve any structural purpose. However, he and Tom Morrison, the university’s vice president of capital projects, said that engineers were digging into the original blueprints of the building to determine that for certain to see if removing the plates would have an affect on anything else.

“The whole remediation plan is not finalized,” Glass said. “Last night there was a feeling that those had a purely cosmetic function and therefore could come down without having any structural ramifications for that. They’re trying to make sure that’s right, so they’re into the blue prints and doing engineer testing things. The short answer is we’re not sure that will be the alternative. They have a number of proposed approaches. They’re fine-tuning that and testing that, but they are to the point that they’ve given us a great deal of comfort that it was quite fixable. There will be belt and suspenders on it at least for multiple protections. Given the detail on which the structural engineers have gone over that area, it probably will be the safest building in the Big Ten if not the country when they’re done.”

Said Morrison: “Everything has a redundancy in engineering design and architectural design, and so as Fred said, they’re going back through the old drawings. They’ve got the original blueprints of the building, trying to look at what was the intent at the time. It’s impossible, probably, to get back to the people that designed it. All you have in the history of a building is the blueprints, so they’re going back to that and looking at what we can do going forward. … Everything is connected to something else and you want to make sure that if you remove something else or change something else, it doesn’t have an impact further that you didn’t initially consider and that’s what the engineers are looking at now.”

Glass said the loose plates will either be removed or fixed with the notion that they will have to someday deal with a similar situation than what led to one of them to pop off. He said they will probably removed one way or the other, and the decision will be made as to whether or not they will be put back in a stronger setting.

“We’re not relying on the fact that this kind of load won’t happen again,” Glass said. “It will be engineered to address as severe or even a more severe load going forward.”

Said Morrison: “Now that we know that the roof will flex to this degree, now we’re going to accommodate that at the top of the wall.”

Morrison said he believes that if the engineers did decide to remove all of the plates, it wouldn’t take long. He would say whether it would take a day or two days, but that it would be quick.

With all of that accounted for, Glass said he doesn’t think it will be difficult to find a workable date for the Iowa make-up game.

“I think getting clearance from the engineers that we could host in time was the key part on my end of making sure the facility is available,” Glass said. “That was the threshold issue. Now it’s just a matter of the two programs in consultation with the Big Ten finding a date and so I think to your point because we’ve cleared the hurdle of the engineers having confidence that it will be a safe building to host the game, they’ll be able to find the date.”

 

8 comments

  1. Strange how there were no interior issues related to roof weight-bearing systems for the first 35 years of Assembly…is it my understanding that the roof was replaced recently? And now a few years after that replacement, we’ve had a face plate popping off possibly related to a roofing stress issue?

    I’d be looking at the details of that last roof remodeling/reconstruction. There is a reason that water found it’s way in. The plate likely wouldn’t have come off without the obvious water damage that is evident on the wood the plate was mounted.

  2. Top 10 Possible Name Changes/Nicknames for Assembly Hall:

    10. Duct Tape Arena
    9. Assembly Valcro
    8. Crean’s Giant Sardine Can
    7. The 17th & Fee Hindenburg
    6. Amish-built Hall
    5. Trebuchet Arena
    4. McCracken’s Crazy Glue Toupee
    3. House of the Scurrying Hoosiers
    2. Rafters Made in Japan Arena
    1. Candy Stripes & Termites Hall

  3. It was a BIG concern during that blizzard. Back then the roof was inspected BEFORE the next game and it was thought to be safe. This roof should have been watched carefully when all the snow started falling on it. Let the powers to be say what they will but IU is very fortunate that the whole thing didn’t come down. Let’s not sugar coat this. All those old guys that were around when the thing was built knew what to watch for. They are all retired now. Some have passed away, God rest their souls…

  4. HfH- Comment #5 is the reason why you should charge for subscriptions and quite a few readers would pay. Hilarious! How you doing Harvey?

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