Laurie Lentz

Because safety concerns, temporary barricades have been placed around the perimeter of the College of Liberal Arts building. Some students have had to take alternate routes to classes because of the barricades.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

Temporary barricades will remain around the perimeter of the College of Liberal Arts building until UT Facilities Services staff can determine what is causing the building’s large glass windows to break.

Facility workers identified the first broken glass pane March 27 and then set up construction barricades around the building and blocked off the patios and three entrances, said Laurie Lentz, Campus Planning & Facilities Management communications manager. 

While the construction barricades are temporary, Lentz said she is working on putting up better temporary barricades and coverings over the doors.

“We want to make sure people don’t get hit by falling glass,” Lentz said. 

Approximately five windows have cracked, but glass from those windows is not raining down on people entering the building, so the barricades are more of a precaution, according to Lentz

Stephanie Sebastian, international relations and global studies senior, said the barricades have forced her to take different paths to her classes. 

“Usually I go from the bus stop near the stadium and go to the bottom floor where my classes are, but, since that’s blocked off, I have to go on the right side of the fountain and go up and cross over,” Sebastian said. “I’m annoyed that I can’t get to the CLA as easily as I could before, but, at the same time, you can’t help if glass is breaking.”

Vandalism did not cause the cracks in the windows, Lentz said. The windows cracked naturally, but the glass is being tested to determine why it is breaking.

“The construction manager is overseeing inspection by the glass subcontractor, and UT System … is having the glass break analyzed by a testing lab,” Lentz said. “These windows contain safety glass, but all glass is subject
to breakage.”

Beause the glass is safety glass, Lentz said if it were to fall and break, it would not have sharp edges. Safety glass is used in multiple buildings across campus.

The CLA building opened in spring 2013, making it one of the newest buildings on campus. The building, which has a LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, was designed to maximize natural lighting throughout the day.

“I think that’s weird because I would assume that newer buildings would be stronger,” Sebastian said. “I don’t know why it’s happening because I think since it’s newer, they should have been more prepared for it and used the right materials and glass to make sure that it doesn’t break.”

It is unclear as to when the barricades will go down and access to the patios and entrances will be reinstated.

“The barriers will remain in place until the window glass break issue has been fully resolved to the satisfaction of campus administration,” Lentz said. “The campus administration is taking these steps — inspection and analysis of the glass as well as installation of safety barriers — to ensure the safety of the campus community.”

Government senior D’Wahn Kelley said he did not know why the barricades were placed around the building, but it does not affect his access to the building.

“As long as students are safe and it does not create a great burden, I am fine with the barricades,” Kelley said.

Marketing sophomore Laura Bowman and accounting sophomore Archie Agarwal share a meal on the rooftop of the SAC. The SAC is one of several buildings on campus in which students can access the roof.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Although they may be some of the lesser-explored places on campus, the rooftops of several University buildings are home to a variety of features, including gardens, telescopes and even a bee colony.

UT Facilities Services spokeswoman Laurie Lentz said some students go on top of buildings because of class requirements.

“Several buildings allow student and faculty access to the roof due to class experiments or class projects,” Lentz said in an email. “For example, a faculty member maintains a bee colony on the roof of the [J. T. Patterson Laboratories Building], and a telescope is maintained on the roof of RLM.”

Some buildings at the University also have “green roofs,” an environmentally-friendly designation indicating that at least part of the roof is covered with vegetation. According to the Austin Green Roof Advisory Group’s website, green roofs can provide aesthetic value and insulation and reduce storm water runoff.

Lentz said green roofs are not new at the University, although newer buildings — such as the SAC, Hackerman Building and the College of Liberal Arts Building — tend to have more green space.

“UT has a long association with green roofs, dating back to the 1930s when areas of lawn and shrubs were planted on the roofs flanking either side of the Office of the President,” Lentz said. “In more recent times, the largest amount of green roofs has been installed at the Student Activity Center, and a portion of the LBJ plaza — which is also a roof above the space below the plaza — is planted.”

Green roofs are incorporated into new buildings if it’s important to the building’s program and is supportable within a project’s budget, according to Lentz.

Students frequent the roof of the SAC, which has a rooftop garden and Skyspace, a structure by artist James Turrell that illuminates colored light sequences at sunrise and sunset.

Graduate student Taylor Bradley, who works as an attendant at Skyspace, said the roof of the SAC is a popular spot for students to sit and relax during the afternoon.

“Usually, we get more students around lunchtime, and people just kind of nap or relax,” Bradley said. “Occasionally, we get a class or some tourists.” 

According to Lentz, most green roofs on campus are accessible to the public, although about 80 percent of campus buildings require a campus utility machine room key to gain rooftop access. 

Lentz said the Roof Safety Working Group partners with Project Management and Construction Services and the Environmental Health and Safety department to determine parameters for roof access and safety.

“When roofs are accessible to the public, building code dictates the height and type of barrier required for fall protection,” Lentz said. “Project Management and Construction Services is in the process of selecting a contractor to install passive safety devices for fall protection, such as railings and warning lines. The first group of buildings were selected, and a structural engineering firm has completed the design and load requirements for these systems.”

A roadway near Parlin Hall was closed Tuesday to prune a tree’s dead branches for pedestrian safety and the tree’s health.

Laurie Lentz, manager in the University’s department of Business and Financial Services, said the project was originally planned to take place this weekend but was postponed because of adverse weather. Landscape services arborists worked to take down the dead section Thursday morning, according to Lentz.

“For safety reasons, the arborists dealt with the tree as soon as they could [Tuesday] morning, when it was a bit drier,” Lentz said.

Lentz said the arborists had to remove approximately one-third of the upper canopy of the tree for safety reasons.

“The work was done primarily for the safety of people walking near the tree,” Lentz said. “It was also done for the health of the tree, to reduce the potential of wood decay fungi and insects attacking the tree through the dead areas.”

For the past five years, UT has been named an Arbor Day Foundation Tree Campus USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, which recognizes universities that strive to engage students to maintain a healthy and sustainable ecosystem around campus.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Water at Hogg Memorial Auditorium will be shut off for a brief period of time Thursday morning as workers test a new fire hydrant installed outside of the building this week.

The University has approximately 70 fire hydrants on the main campus and tests each of them annually. Results of the annual testing found the valve meant to turn water off in the fire hydrant was not working properly.

Laurie Lentz, manager in the department of business and financial services, said replacing the hydrant, which was first installed in the 1940s, will prevent the possibility of water waste.

“The hydrant would still have the ability to do fire suppression with the malfunctioning valve,” Lentz said. “But if there would have been a fire, after suppressing it with the hydrant, the water would not shut off completely.”

The water for the auditorium will be turned off from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. so the hydrant and the connection to the water line can be tested. 

“Whenever there is a water shut-off, it’s coordinated with building occupants and any shops that may need to be involved,” Lentz said.

The mechanical distribution division of the Utilities and Energy Management department will finish the project after the system is tested Thursday. 

Random graffiti around campus and busted exit signs in residence halls cause headaches for University police and administration, and according to officials, they are the most prevalent types of vandalism around campus.

Officer Layne Brewster of UTPD’s crime prevention unit said graffiti is the most frequently reported type of vandalism on campus. From Jan. 1 to Oct. 14, Brewster said there have been 70 reports of graffiti of all forms — with restroom stalls, newspaper dispensers, trash cans and utility poles tagged regularly.

UT Facilities Services spokeswoman Laurie Lentz said Facilities Services is responsible for all graffiti cleanup on campus. Lentz said Facilities has four teams that cover four zones on campus. These teams, or “Zones,” are the first responders for outdoor graffiti removal.

Zone 2 supervisor Herb Woerndell said his team oversees maintenance of the central campus area, which encompasses most buildings on the original 40 Acres.

“We all get our hands into some graffiti,” Woerndell said. “Zone 2 is one of the highest visibility areas, and I get tagged pretty hard now and then.”

Woerndell said Walter Webb Hall, which is across the street from the Jesse H. Jones Communications Center, is a go-to canvas for graffiti artists and is tagged two to three times a month.

“The black wall facing Guadalupe Street is like a blackboard for graffiti,” Woerndell said. “Sometimes I guess what they do is climb a tree on the north side and get on the roof of the WWH and spray paint the wall over there. That’s been tagged more than a few times.”

From Jan. 1 to Oct. 14, UTPD responded to 93 reports of criminal mischief. Brewster said broken exit signs in residence halls are among the highest reported incidents. According to UTPD’s Campus Watch report, three separate reports of damaged exit signs inside Jester West were reported in the past week. 

Aaron Voyles, area manager for the University’s Division of Housing and Food Services, said broken exit signs are a recurring problem and should not be taken lightly. Although broken exit signs cost $75 to fix, Voyles said the cost of repair is secondary to the potential safety risks at hand.

“Damaged exit signs are immediately reported to UTPD and maintenance,” Voyles said. “These incidents are a primary concern for us because exit signs are life and safety equipment. They’re designed to make sure our students can safely exit the building during emergencies.”

Although an offensive sketch or subversive message is not life-threatening, removing graffiti is a source of frustration for Facilities employees. 

Graffiti wipes and pressure washers are effective on smooth walls around campus, Woerndell said. If statues are vandalized, the process is more difficult. Woerndell’s team once spent an entire day cleaning the Martin Luther King Jr. statue with soap and water because bronze statues can be damaged by chemically-treated cleaning products.

“If the wall is tagged pretty hard and the paint is soaked up real good, then Construction
will come over and sandblast it,” Woerndell said.

Lentz said Custodial Services cleans indoor graffiti, primarily in restrooms, that can be removed with standard cleaning products.

Sally Moore, associate director for Custodial Services, said custodians try to eliminate graffiti immediately.

“Experience has proven that any amount of graffiti attracts more graffiti, so our practice is to remove graffiti as soon as it’s noticed,” Moore said. “We also have surface coating products that make it difficult to write on the surface.”

Although there are fewer students on campus during the summer, UT continues to operate at its regular pace.

Despite enrollment dropping to around 16,000 students during the summer, there is not a significant drop in the amount of energy and water usage on campus because of hot temperatures and several departments that are still operating with the same number of staff.

Facilities Services spokeswoman Laurie Lentz said the energy and water rates do not change because of the climate.

“The hot summers raise the demand for electricity and water,” Lentz said. “So where we really see the lowest usage is in the winter months.”

Summer air conditioning accounts for energy usage remaining at fall and spring semester levels. According to Lentz, the buildings still need to be cooled despite less students and faculty members using them during the summer. Water usage does not drop-off because of the increased need for irrigation during the summer months.

“We’ve greatly improved the irrigation system, but nevertheless some irrigation has to take place,” Lentz said.

Unlike the number of students and faculty members on campus, the number of staff workers on campus does not decrease during the summer. According to Lentz, some departments are busiest during the summer.

“The staff numbers don’t fluctuate as much as the student and faculty numbers,” Lentz said. “For example, Project Management and Construction Services, summer is actually their biggest time of the year.” 

With class in session during the summer, the University offers on-campus housing to students as it does during the fall and spring semesters. According to Laurie Mackey, Division of Housing and Food Service administrative services director, approximately 400 to 600 students live on campus during the average summer.

Because of the low number, the University does not operate the dormitories on the northern side of campus, including Duren, Carothers and others. However the University continues to operate Brackenridge, Prather, Roberts and San Jacinto dorms for summer on-campus housing. Jester is used throughout the summer for Freshman Orientation.

Besides summer school and orientation, UT also plays host to various camps and conferences during the summer. According to Mackey, approximately 12,000 people attend a camp or conference held at the University. These tenants are also housed in Jester. These events range in focus from poetry and social justice to ballet and rowing.

Mackey said the DHFS retains their staff during summer. She said because Jester has to be constantly cleaned between orientations, camps and conferences, the DHFS staff from the closed dorms are relocated to the south side.

The DHFS also operates Jester City Limits and Market, the Jester Second Floor Dining Hall, Cypress Bend Café and the Littlefield Patio Café during the summer.

Lentz said the campus could potentially bring down the energy and water usage numbers, if each person on campus made small efforts to conserve. Lentz said in a recent one-day campaign by Facilities Services in April, students were encouraged to use less electricity for one hour resulting in campus power usage dropping by 2.7 percent.

“It would certainly help if people conserve and don’t have their thermostats turned up. I think that we really can make an impact,” Lentz said. “If everybody did a few things, it would certainly help.”

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The University median located between 21st St. and Martin Luther King Blvd. won the 2012 Turf Landscape Maintenance Award by the Texas Turfgrass Association for sustaining its landscape by organic methods.

Photo Credit: Yamel Thompson | Daily Texan Staff

The medians on University Avenue between 21st Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard are officially award-winning, all thanks to UT’s Landscape Services. 

The service team, overseen by supervisor Mike Wallick, was awarded the 2012 Turf Landscape Maintenance Award by the Texas Turfgrass Association in the 10,000 square feet-and-
above category.

“The award was for the way we installed and are maintaining that landscape,” Facilities Services spokesperson Laurie Lentz said. “The challenging aspect of maintaining this site is its high visibility and prominence as a visual corridor between the capitol and the UT Tower.”

Lentz said the landscape on University Avenue is maintained with sustainable methods, including organic fertilizer and an upgraded irrigation system.

“[The landscape] reflects well on the University as the whole,” Lentz said. “It underscores the University’s commitment to stewardship and conservation of resources.”

Wallick said he began work on the University Avenue landscape in 2008 with the renovation of the medians.

“I’ve been involved in landscape management for 40 years,” Wallick said. “I guess I’m just one of those people that likes to play in the dirt.”

Wallick said in addition to using only organic fertilizer, Landscape Services prioritized the sustainability of the project by the converting the existing cross-campus irrigation system into a centralized control system in 2011. The new system has the capability to detect breaks in the piping and sensors that automatically shut off irrigation during rainfall.

“Sustainability is a big buzz word these days. It gets a lot of play but not a lot of follow-through,” Wallick said. “We are constantly trying to figure out ways to be more efficient as we do our job and to conserve resources.”

Justin Hayes has been the crew leader of Landscape Services for 15 years. Hayes said he wakes up at 4 a.m. during the week so he can begin his eight-hour workday by 6 a.m.

“Landscaping is very physical in the first place,” Hayes said. “You have to mentally know that you’ll be able to take the heat and be able to work and stay hydrated.”

Despite the intense labor and Texas heat in the summer, Hayes said receiving the maintenance award was an extra reward for the work he and his four-member team do. He said receiving words of thanks and seeing students lying on the grass and enjoying the sun help the team carry on.

“It’s nice to know that your job makes a difference that way,” Hayes said.

According to UT biology senior lecturer John Abbot, the right combination of weather patterns, namely drought followed by heavy rainfall, can contribute to an increase in the number of insects, including crickets.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

Saturday football spectators saw UT shut out the New Mexico Lobos 45-0 and stomped out a portion of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium’s crickets in the process.

The stadium’s pest control, unlike pest control on the rest of the UT campus, is maintained by the athletics department, Facilities Services spokesperson Laurie Lentz said. Assistant athletic director for facilities Brian Womack handles pest control and said crickets are not sprayed but are simply swept off the field after they die.

This year, the cricket population has been bigger than usual, UT biology senior lecturer John Abbott said in June. This happens every few years, he said. The right combination of weather patterns, drought followed by heavy rainfall, yield a high amount of the insects. The drought last year also killed many common cricket predators.

Womack said he did not receive any complaints about crickets from fans or spectators this weekend, but Longhorn Band members and football players both noticed a high number of the insects. Mellophone player Julieen Zhang said the crickets were mostly contained to the field.

“When I got on the field, it was literally raining crickets,” Zhang said. “One of them landed on my shoulder sometime toward the end of the show.”

Zhang, an accounting graduate student, said the cricket stayed on her shoulder for the remaining minute of the performance until she could finally flick it off. In her four years of marching at the stadium, Zhang said she had never seen anything like Saturday’s crickets.

“Before we did halftime, I saw them but I thought they were just like regular moths flying around,” Zhang said.

She said the crickets were a nuisance, but the band’s performance was unaffected.

Left guard Trey Hopkins said the crickets were numerous, but that he did not notice them until near the end of the game when one of the bugs jumped up and started crawling on his arm. Junior cornerback Carrington Byndom said he remembered seeing them while he was on the bench.

“I don’t know, maybe it’s getting kind of bad around here. Maybe there’s a cricket epidemic going on around here,” Byndom said. “I didn’t really notice it. I think it’ll be OK.”

The city may have to resort to water conservation measures intended for catastrophes if Central Texas’ drought continues, but UT will still be responsible for managing its own water usage.

City Council announced at a special work session Tuesday morning that the city is considering the possibility of stage three water restrictions beginning this spring if the drought continues to get worse, said Jason Hill, spokesman for Austin Water.

“We want to meet basically the demands of what an extreme and extended drought would call for,” Hill said. “In the books [stage three restrictions were] set up for some sort of catastrophic thing with the water supply, so we have to look at how it can be customized to protect and maintain our water supply during the slow process of this drought.”

UT doesn’t have to follow city water restrictions, Hill said.

He said under stage three restrictions, no one in the city is allowed to water lawns or other landscaping. The city of Austin went into stage two water restrictions on Sep. 6 after water levels of Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis fell below the 900,000-acre mark, he said.

“I’m not a meteorologist, but we’re still in a drought,” he said. “We haven’t had any significant improvement.”

The University purchases between 7 and 8 million gallons of water each year from the city and is one of the top ten water consumers in Austin, said Leonard Friesenhahn, associate director for mechanical distribution for UT’s Utilities & Energy Management division. The University takes domestic water and drinking water from the city and returns wastewater back to them, he said.

The most recent data on UT’s total water usage is from the 2009-10 school year, when the University used about 512.7 million gallons, said Laurie Lentz, spokeswoman for UT’s facility services.

According to facility services numbers, Central Texas last experienced a major drought during the 2006-07 school year, when water usage dropped to 427,502 gallons. Turning off the fountains saves an estimated 300,000 gallons per month, updating automatic campus irrigation systems saves an estimated 49 million gallons per year and the 2008 renovations to campus plumbing are saving an estimated 16 million gallons per year, she said.

The University is making efforts to conserve water by watering campus landscape zones only one day a week, turning off the Littlefield and LBJ fountains and installing xeriscapes, which consist of more drought resistant plants than the University’s traditional landscapes, Lentz said.

“We don’t have to abide by the city of Austin ordinances, but we typically do try to support them,” she said.

The exception to these water cutbacks is the University’s 4,500 trees, which are worth $25 million and remain under constant drip irrigation, Lentz said.

“We’re trying to use water only where water is needed,” Lentz said. “Not watering the sidewalks, things like that.”