Wednesday, September 1, 2021

UW-Madison Chemistry has major ventilation problems

Via Twitter, an article from Kelly Meyerhofer of the Wisconsin State Journal
Problems with the new chemistry building addition on the UW-Madison campus continue with part of the ventilation system collapsing earlier this month, closing two wings of the University Avenue building.

A large duct on the ninth floor of the new tower collapsed Aug. 21, the university said in an announcement. The ducts that make up the ventilation system are key to exhausting chemical fumes.

The damaged duct is part of the system that serves the Mathews and Daniels wings, which house an unspecified number of research labs. All staff has moved out while a damage assessment takes place. 

The chemistry department is working with leaders of each lab to move their research to a different location or transition to operate remotely for a while. 

University officials have also either moved online or identified alternative locations for the eight course sections scheduled to take place in the two wings this semester.

The timeline to repair the system is unknown, according to UW-Madison.

The closure of the two wings comes on the heels of the university announcing a delay in the new tower's opening. That's because fire safety tests performed over the summer found the elevator shafts in the addition did not pass pressurization tests. Elevator shaft pressurization reduces the spread of smoke during a fire, making improper pressure a “life-safety issue.”

The $133 million construction project broke ground in September 2018.

Well, this sounds like a mess for the lawyers to handle. I imagine there will be a settlement sometime in 2027. Best wishes to the graduate students and postdocs most affected by this. 


  1. Facility problems aren't new for UW Madison. I recall at least one instance where the air handling went out when I was a Grad student there. It was an incredibly hot and humid day and water started condensing on every surface.

  2. Middle of October is the earliest they are saying it will open. It is a mess and the entire closed wing smells like solvents. Not a good situation.


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