Peterson, J. Eric1 and Treser, Steven2

1 Principal, WDP & Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc., 10621 Gateway Blvd., Suite 200, Manassas, VA, USA,
2 Senior Architectural Engineer, WDP & Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc., 620 N. Main Street, Suite 202, Blacksburg, VA, USA,

Maintenance of university masonry façades typically requires a higher standard of care than most commercial buildings in order to preserve their distinctive appearance and the enduring sense of pride among students, faculty, and alumni. One would expect maintenance intervals to be short, and repair costs for these signature buildings to be exceedingly high. However, the evolution from mass masonry wall construction to insulated cavity wall construction—along with combinations of brick, stone, precast, terracotta, fenestrations, and metal panels—has changed the way facades perform. It has also introduced new maintenance challenges that are not always related to the age of the structure and have less to do with the maintenance of the masonry than other components of the facade. Moreover, the demand for improved energy efficiency and the higher cost of masonry construction leaves less room in the budget for structured façade maintenance. A proactive approach was taken to research historic and standardized masonry maintenance guidelines, develop a questionnaire to determine anticipated university building service life expectations, poll other universities for their best maintenance practices and the funds allocated for maintenance, and share the combined data with all participants. Detailed experiential questions were also included on a variety of issues including systemic building envelope leakage and premature façade failure. Thirteen universities completed the questionnaire with detailed comments and typical practices. The responses indicated that universities take a reasonably proactive approach to building inspection and monitoring but a more passive approach to the planning of façade restoration intervals. Clearly defined tracking procedures that balance the inspection effort with the rate of deterioration may significantly improve the budgeting of repairs. It was also determined that masonry facades are usually expected to remain serviceable between significantly longer maintenance intervals (50 to 75 years) than previously reported industry maintenance intervals (25 years).


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