Arts School Upgrade

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The drive down Brookway Boulevard will looka little different after planned renovations to the exterior ofMississippi School of the Arts’ Student Life Center arecomplete.

    The school plans to address water leakage problems on the west wallby adding a new exterior of steel panels and a watertight seal,said MSA Executive Director Suzanne Hirsch during Tuesday night’scity board of aldermen meeting.

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    The panels will colored, with green predominating, and form amosaic pattern on the wall.

    School leaders said they remain aware of the visual significance ofMSA to Brookhaven. The west wall is visible to all drivers comingfrom the interstate into downtown.

    “It is such a prominent sight as you drive down BrookwayBoulevard,” Hirsch said.

    Therefore, architect Mark Vaughan designed the mosaic of coloredsteel panels that will be used in the project.

    The approximately $500,000 project will be paid for the MississippiBureau of Buildings, Grounds and Real Property.

    School leaders have been working on the renovations for more than ayear.

    According to a timeline of the project, it was initially presentedto the Bureau in July of 2010. The bureau committed to fund theproject and assigned it as a “priority need” in February of thisyear.

    When MSA’s Student Life Center was originally constructed planscalled for a second tower to be built adjacent to it within twoyears. That was 10 years ago, and the current tower has stool aloneduring that time due to funding difficulties.

    The west wall was only sealed with cinder blocks and paint,according to an information packet produced by MSA concerning therenovation. No insulation was made to that wall since anotherbuilding was meant to directly abut it.

    Neither was the wall built in such a way that brick could be lateradded to it, necessitating the panels as an alternative, Vaughansaid.

    The absence of the second building means the west wall is notweather tight and leaking occurs on five of the eight floors duringrain and storms from the west.

    Hirsch said there is water damage within the building due to thelong-term leaking.

    The combination of the steel panels and a watertight seal will addfour inches to the width of the west wall. Hirsch also said theproject should “make a huge impact” on the school’s utility billsby further insulating the structure.

    Vaughan explained that if the second tower is ever built, thecurrent renovations can accommodate this.

    “They can be removed without damaging the wall,” Vaughan said ofthe steel panels. “It wouldn’t be like trying to removebricks.”

    Vaughan added, though, that the panels are sturdy and will providea long-term solution if the second building never comes tofruition.

    The renovation plan also calls for the removal of a skylight in theStudent Life Center’s roof.

    Hirsch said the skylight’s installation was flawed and leakingoccurs through it during heavy storms. Repair attempts to theskylight have failed.

    The skylight’s absence will not be visually obvious, Hirschsaid.

    A timeline of the project created by MSA calling for bidding of thework to occur in December of 2011 with construction beginning inJanuary or February of 2012. Renovations are scheduled to concludein June of 2012.

    No students will be displaced during the construction. Hirsch saiddorms do not extend all the way to the west wall. Instead, a loungearea is at the far western end of each floor.

    “Students may lose some of their lounge area for a little while,but that is it,” Hirsch said.