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Humanities Center damaged by flooding from burst sprinkler pipe

| By Nick Alexopulos
Humanities flood damage
Extensive damage necessitated removal of the entire drop ceiling in the reception area outside the president's office on the second floor of Humanities.

Almost 60 years ago Loyola University Maryland’s most treasured building survived a fire. Now it’s recovering from a flood.

On Jan. 7, a sprinkler pipe burst in the Francis Xavier Knott, S.J., Humanities Center and flooded areas of the building that face Loyola’s Quad on the Evergreen campus. The flooding originated on the third floor and caused significant damage to each of the floors below.

Loyola facilities, public safety, and environmental health & safety staff responded with the Baltimore City Fire Department minutes after the pipe burst, and it was shut off soon after. But in that short time more than 20,000 gallons of water from the fire suppression system poured from the pipes, soaking ceilings, floors, and carpets in its path. An initial assessment determined the damage was concentrated in the honors lounge, president’s office, Refectory, Hug Lounge, and terrace level storage; those areas will be closed to the Loyola community while repairs are being made.

Restoration efforts are already underway. Cleanup, drying, and targeted demolition will continue through this week before rebuilding and reinstalling begin this weekend.

“I am extraordinarily grateful for Loyola’s first responders and the men and women from the Baltimore City Fire Department who worked tirelessly throughout the night in extremely cold weather to ensure the preservation of a building that is iconic to Loyola’s students and generations of our alumni,” said Rev. Brian F. Linanne, S.J., president of Loyola. “Their selfless dedication in those frigid, challenging conditions serves as a perfect reminder to our students—and to all of us—of the Jesuit ideal of living as men and women for others.”

The Humanities building was built in 1896 as a private residence by Alice Whitridge Garret, an heiress to the B&O Railroad fortune. Later the Garret family offered to let the Red Cross use it as an infirmary for servicemen blinded in World War I.

The Society of Jesus purchased the property and moved the Loyola campus from Calvert Street in 1921. From 1924 to 1992 the house served as a residence for the Jesuits, though the structure was damaged by a fire in 1955. After a $6 million conversion of the 40,000-square-foot space and 30,000-square-foot expansion, the building became the college's Humanities Center in 1994.

The most recognizable interior rooms in the Humanities building are the Hug Lounge, featured in the acclaimed Netflix series House of Cards, and nearby Refectory. The rest of the building houses six academic departments and numerous administrative offices. Students flock to the exterior wraparound porch on warm, sunny days.

Event services and technology services were also heavily involved in the response. Loyola officials estimate repairs will take three weeks. Only a few offices will be need to be temporarily relocated, and event services is currently working to adjust any events scheduled for the impacted areas.

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