Taylor Auditorium was due for new rigging and curtains. The existing ones were original from when the building was built in 1972. Due to their age the curtains were no longer flame retardant and had become a possible safety concern.
Missouri Southern contracted Associated Theatrical Contracting (ATC) out of Springfield, MO to replace the rigging and curtains. A job with an estimated cost of $325,000. However, once they began the work a crack was discovered in one of the interior walls of the building around 36 feet up the wall.
According to Construction and Risk Manager Bob Harrington, ATC raised some concerns about if the crack was having an impact upon the structural integrity of the building, so the work was put on hold until the wall could be analyzed by an engineering firm.
The wall of Taylor Auditorium consists of four layers: a layer of insulation is sandwiched between two layers of concrete block, and then the exterior layer is made of brick. The crack is in the innermost layer of concrete block.
To analyze the crack Missouri Southern has hired J&M Engineering, who is also based in Springfield, MO. J&M has also been retained to be the structural engineering firm for the new residence hall that is going to be constructed by the Fall semester of 2021.
At this time, it is still unknown if the crack is a legitimate concern in regards to the structural integrity and safety of the building. “We don’t know what we’re going to do about it, what we have to do about it, or how serious it is; The engineers are still doing some investigating,” Harrington said.
These types of cracks are oftentimes common in buildings in Joplin due to the mining history of the area, so it is entirely possible that nothing needs to be done about the crack. The university is continuing to investigate and updates will be provided as they come available.