Note: Louisiana lawmakers will decide what to do with a substantial excess of cash on hand in the state during the next legislative session in March. Before the session, the Reveille dedicates a series of stories dealing with LSU’s crumbling infrastructure. This story is the first in the ongoing series.
Since he began studying ecology and natural resource management at LSU in 2019, Jackson Martingayle has encountered a variety of maintenance issues in the Renewable Natural Resources Building.
in one Tweet from January 8th, Martingayle photographed one of the building’s hallways, where the ceiling is covered with tarpaulins that collect water, which is then channeled into multiple trash cans.
“It’s been like this for the past three years,” Martingayle said.
Another student, Grace Rosseau, a senior in ecology and natural resource management, said the tarps, water collection buckets, and other issues related to the leaky ceiling have been there longer, since her freshman year.
“If it rains outside the building, it rains inside,” Rosseau said.
Built in 1986, the building is located on Tower Drive on the south side of campus.
Michael Kaller, undergraduate coordinator at the School of Renewable Natural Resources, said he’s had problems in the building since 2008, when Hurricane Gustav, one of the worst storms to hit Baton Rouge, caused at least $12 million in damage across campus . It only got worse from there, Kaller said.
Around that time, some offices just under the roof on the first and third floors were abandoned, Kaller said. Classrooms are still threatened by leaks.
“As a faculty member, it’s very frustrating that our main classroom, which we use most often, is leaking,” he said. “Fortunately it doesn’t trickle down directly to the students, we’ve moved the seats that way, but it’s still frustrating. It’s also frustrating that my colleagues can’t be in the building.”
Peeling paint, spotty internet connectivity and cases of mold in the air vents have also plagued the building for years, students and faculty said.
The building’s exterior doesn’t look any better, showing signs of foundation deterioration and a warped PVC pipe supporting another piece of the collapsing roof, which reveals unusable bike racks.
Despite the long list of issues raised by both professors and students, the only deferred maintenance listed for the building is for the cracked foundation and exterior walls, which LSU’s deferred maintenance list says will cost $2.6 million .
The list of deferred maintenance needs at LSU totals over $630 million.
Bryan Andries, executive director of facility services, said the state has allocated $5 million to fix the problems at the building, including repairing the roof and upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
The plan also includes renovations like a new lighting system, something that would fix the “shabby” vibe Rosseau currently has in the building.
LSU Planning, Design and Construction is scheduled to oversee the project.
Updates to the building are scheduled to begin in May and be complete by December, said Roger Husser, associate vice president of LSU Planning, Design and Construction.
“This is a federally funded and federally contracted project and the schedule could be delayed,” Husser said.
In the years she’s spent in the building, Rosseau said she’s noticed how dated the building is, with some of the last plaques on campus, a 1960s feel, and a personality that “could fall on her at any time.” .
The goal of the building’s renovation plan is to fix that by bringing the building up to date and fixing the systems “that are no longer viable,” Andries said.
Despite the changes planned for the building, the department’s professors and students yearn for more to bring their program’s headquarters into the present.
Kaller said there was a need to have secure and reliable parking for their trucks and boats used for fieldwork, as well as modern laboratory equipment for students, who he says are having a subpar educational experience at the moment.
“It’s about making a great program phenomenal,” said Kaller.