Mies wept: the MTCC flood of January 2019

Mon Feb 04, 2019

Photo by Daniel Rappoport (He/him)

Among a myriad of other conditions ranging from inconvenient to life-threatening, the afternoon of Thursday, January 31 also saw a very unfortunate event transpire at the west entrance of the MTCC: the inclement cold weather resulted in a sprinkler system pipe in the building to freeze and then burst, resulting in a massive downpour of sprinkler water in the west entrance doorway of the building.

I was first informed of this excitement through a video posted to the Illinois Tech Student Community (ITSC) Facebook page by student Daniel Rappoport showing the water flow from the outside of the building (lending us the rather disturbing image of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe mosaic on the door appearing to be crying). No doubt the cynics and passive lurkers of ITSC had a field day with this post. With the MTCC’s fire alarm blaring because the “activated” sprinkler water and flooding spreading, the building was a scene of chaos (and not the deafening kind of chaos that happens when there is a concert in Center Court but rather a much rarer “our campus is actually self-destructing in the cold” kind of chaos).

However, Illinois Tech Facilities was immediately on the scene to control the damage and clean up the mess. Facilities staff members immediately got to work stemming the tide of water and cleaning the affected floors.

Another Illinois Tech student, Zach Fleck, is a life safety expert with over a year of experience working with fire and life safety systems. Both on ITSC and in an interview with TechNews, he stated that the electronic components and drywall in the area directly under the sprinkler water will likely require some major work to be restored. It should be noted that the main fire panel for the MTCC is located in the exact area hit by the water flow, and it is now likely completely destroyed.

Fleck was informed by Illinois Tech Facilities that Fox Valley Fire & Safety (the company overseeing Illinois Tech’s fire systems) will be contacted to see how quickly the building’s system can be brought back up, but the remainder of the sprinkler system is still operational. Illinois Tech Public Safety will also be having hourly rounds through the building for “fire watch,” which is consistent with current operating procedures anyway.

When asked for an official statement on the situation and the foreseeable future, Illinois Tech Facilities provided the following:

“Yesterday’s water leak at MTCC’s west entrance was due to the extreme weather conditions, which caused a fire sprinkler pipe to freeze and burst. Facilities staff responded immediately to isolate the leak. The entrance will be temporarily closed while additional repairs are being completed. We hope to have the west entrance doors restored to normal working order by Monday, February 4. Until then, please use the south and east entrances to MTCC.”


Photos by Zach Fleck (He/him)




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