The Polak Building was suddenly closed last October, slightly over one year after its original opening, following the collapse of a car park in Eindhoven which featured a very similar floor construction. Measurements carried out at the Polak Building showed that there was no acute risk of collapse, but that the tensile forces acting on the concrete floor slabs did exceed the legal limits. As a result, the university decided to evacuate the place.
After several months’ worth of testing, it was found that some of the issues which marred the Eindhoven car park structure simply did not apply to the Polak Building. However, it was decided that the concrete floor slabs had to be connected to each other more tightly so as to prevent them from shifting. Therefore, the ceilings of the building were reinforced with several hundreds of steel slabs. Last February, engineers working for engineering consultancy Royal Haskoning declared the building safe for use again.
According to Geert Gerritse, who was in charge of the Campus under Construction project, the costs of the recent measures amounted to ‘less than 5 per cent of the costs of constructing the building’. It is not yet known who will foot the bill for the additional costs. “The question we now need to answer is obviously: do we hold someone liable or not? We very well may. So far we have focused on getting the building back in working order. Of course it is a sensitive issue. If we decide to hold someone liable, we will let you know,” Gerritse said during a presentation given to the University Council.