MSA tower repairs under way

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, July 22, 2012

Renovations at the Mississippi School of the Arts were hard to miss last week. Workers transformed the west wall, which faces Brookway Boulevard, into something resembling a golf course fairway.

     “There have been some comments made about that green paint,” said Pete Cupit, MSA Security and Maintenance Director.

     Comments like, “‘Couldn’t you find a better color than that?'”

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     The “green paint” is actually a waterproofing seal, and the initial stage of a project to address leaking issues throughout the MSA dormitory tower.

     A second dormitory was originally supposed to be built adjacent to the current one, and the western wall the current tower was never fully weatherproofed. During some rains, five of the eight floors leak and mortar has cracked, exposing the building to the outdoors and resulting in water damage inside the building.

     A plan to address these problems has been in talks since July 2010.

     Cupit offered assurance the final wall will look far different from its current green hue. Plans call for a series of colored metal panels to be placed over the wall.

     Cupit believes that once the waterproofing seal is finished, a metal framework will be added for the panels to be attached to. A project proposal delivered to city aldermen last year said the mosaic pattern would complement the existing colors and surrounding natural elements.

     Problems with a skylight in the tower roof will also be addressed. The skylight was improperly installed and will be removed and replaced with a roof.

     Leaking through the skylight has apparently resulted in further water damage to the building, which will now be repaired.

     Cupit said the skylight repairs will not begin until all needed materials are on site.

     “You don’t want to remove the skylight until there is something else ready to replace it with,” Cupit said.

     Tower renovations will be funded by the state Bureau of Buildings, Grounds and Real Property.

     Joel Smith Construction, based out of Hattiesburg, was the successful project bidder.

     If all goes according to plan, work on the tower will be concluded in 90 days.

     Elsewhere on campus, the total renovation of Enochs Hall has neared completion.

     “They are getting all the painting and exterior doors and windows ready to go,” Cupit said.

     When Enochs is completed, it will house a black box theater, allowing drama productions more control over lighting conditions. The building should also be home to a classroom, an art gallery, additional storage space and a sculpture shop.

     Cupit remains somewhat uncertain when Enochs will be turned over to MSA control by the Bureau of Buildings and Grounds. The school, however, probably won’t begin using it until the fall.

     “We may take possession of it before then, but we won’t put it into use until October,” Cupit said.