The Polak building, which was evacuated on Thursday night, is in no acute danger of collapsing. This was confirmed to the Executive Board on Friday morning by the engineering agency that inspected the safety of the building.
“Initially it’s an odd feeling,” says Eddy Hus, member of the Executive Board. “In a parking garage you think: there’s heavy equipment, lots of cars. But you don’t initially think of high risk in an educational building, where there are at most a few hundred students walking through it every day.” However, the Executive Board decided to evacuate the Polak building immediately, because the safety of the floors cannot be guaranteed.
Closed for at least two weeks
The building will be closed for at least two weeks, says Hus. “We are currently working hard to provide alternatives for staff and students.” All lectures scheduled for Friday in Polak were arranged elsewhere. Classes scheduled in Polak during the next two weeks will also be reorganised.
The engineering firm is currently exploring what temporary solutions can ensure the safety of the building. “We are now thinking of steel columns and floor posts,” says Hus. But when the building can be reopened is anyone’s guess.
The shops in the Polak building are also closed until further notice. “Now that we know that there’s no acute danger of collapse, we will look at how to get everyone’s property out of the Polak building as safely as possible. Because there are still students’ laptops and shopkeepers’ tills in the building.” Hus expects that it may be possible to get everything out of the building on Friday.
Meanwhile, a collection point has been opened in W building, the security building near the entrance to Woudestein campus. Students can go there to collect anything they left in the building during the evacuation.
Other buildings safe
At five o’clock on Thursday evening, the engineering firm revealed that there was a similar error in the floor construction of the Polak building as in the parking garage at Eindhoven Airport, which partially collapsed in May. The Executive Board decided to evacuate the building immediately. At around seven o’clock, the hundreds of occupants were out of the building.
The construction error came to light after the municipality requested an investigation into the safety of the Polak building on 10 October. Ten buildings in Rotterdam have the same problems with the floor construction. On Thursday, it became known that a school in Brabant is closed because the same construction has been used.
Hus emphasises that all the other buildings on campus are safe: “The Polak Building is the only building which has this floor construction.