Dec 062011
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Audrey Wasielewski walked into CSU’s Visual Arts Building Tuesday morning, unaware that her 80-hour, $400 sculpture was in danger of being completely destroyed.

“It was not a happy thing for me to come in to see this morning,” said the graduate sculpting student about a pipe burst that happened outside of Pitkin Street, spewing gallons of water that eventually turned to ice in the -2 degree temperature.

CSU’s facility management team arrived at the site at 7 a.m., broke past the street’s asphalt, dug eight feet into the ground and fixed the break within a few hours. But, part of the repairing process required workers to shut down the water pipe from approximately 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The shut-down line, which services the Visual Arts Building, Education Building and Braiden Hall, left many without functioning showers or sinks to provide hand washing breaks during art projects.

When water finally flowed back to Wasielewski’s graduate art studio, however, another water pipe burst where her semester-long wood sculpture project was being stored.

The two inches of water that accumulated on the room’s floor as a result had begun to drench it when she and other art students raced in to save her work.

“Things might be warped, now that they’re drying,” she said. “I really don’t think that it’s going to be that ruined. I think that it’ll end up being okay, luckily.”

But Wasielewski wasn’t the only art student affected by the temporary water line shutdown.

Individuals studying printmaking, fibers, pottery, painting and metalsmithing all use water frequently and had to halt their activities in the middle of the day until the leak was fixed.

“With final projects being due soon, I’m sure it was an inconvenience,” said Kathy Chynoweth, a graduate secretary for CSU’s art department.

She added that no other water line shutdown had occurred during her 12 years of working in the Visual Arts Building.

A preliminary analysis of the faulty pipe found that it likely burst due to a stress fracture that has been there since it was manufactured, said Steve Hultin, interim director of Facilities Management at CSU.

Natural erosion over the pipe’s 30 years in service could have also contributed to its eventual failure.

The 30-foot-long, 11-foot-wide and 5-foot-deep hole on Pitkin Street that marks where the pipe burst occurred will be temporarily filled with a special type of temporary asphalt. It will be fully repaired in the spring if temperatures permit.

The entire breakage will cost the university “several thousands of dollars,” Hultin said.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at

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