Cleanup, restoration moving quickly at Bruner Hall of Science

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney expects its Bruner Hall of Science to be fully open and usable within a couple weeks; however, some restoration work may continue into the summer.

The building on the southeast corner of campus sustained interior damage when cold temperatures caused a fourth-floor sprinkler line to break shortly before midnight on Feb. 17. UNK Facilities Management had the broken line shut down within 20 minutes, but the event still impacted all four floors on the south half of the building.

Because this was a main sprinkler line, the system released thousands of gallons of water, likely enough to fill an average-size, in-ground residential swimming pool.

Ceiling tiles, floors, drywall, furniture and lab equipment were damaged, but there are no structural issues. About 50% of the building was impacted, forcing faculty to close lab spaces and adjust classes. Most classes were moved online, and some were relocated to other rooms within Bruner Hall. In-person instruction continued in classrooms on the north side of the building.

“The way our campus community, in particular the faculty, came together to navigate through this extraordinarily difficult circumstance is another tremendous example of the spirit of UNK,” said Chancellor Doug Kristensen. “Once again, their determination to continue instruction and research requires our appreciation.”

UNK hired C-Tech Restoration and Yellow Van Cleaning and Restoration to assist with the cleanup. C-Tech, which is also leading the restoration process, has committed around 1,000 work hours to the project since Thursday.

Restoration will start today on the fourth floor of Bruner Hall, with work on the remaining floors likely beginning later this week or early next week, following testing to ensure there are no health or safety issues.

“As we begin restoration, our first focus will be the hallways so we can ensure safe access to all of the rooms,” said Michael Cremers, assistant director of UNK Facilities Management, adding that all electrical and mechanical equipment will also be evaluated.

“Everything will be functioning properly before we open this part of the building back up,” he said.

Facilities Management is working with faculty to identify high-priority classrooms and learning spaces that will reopen first. The goal is to start bringing classrooms back online Monday.

Students should contact their faculty or check Canvas for updates on specific Bruner Hall courses.

The entire building, including research labs, should be open and usable within two weeks, although some noncritical repairs could extend into the summer.

“There will still be some ongoing items to address,” Cremers said.

It will also take time to replace all of the lab equipment that sustained water damage.

UNK’s insurance provider will be on campus today to conduct a damage assessment, which is expected to be in the millions of dollars.