Water damage closes Vilas Hall, forces classes, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism to relocate

A water pipe burst in an upper floor of Vilas Communication Hall, causing damage that led University of Wisconsin-Madison officials on Sunday to close the building and announce that classes will be relocated at least through Tuesday.

Sterling Anderson

The office of Executive Director Andy Hall and Digital and Multimedia Director Coburn Dukehart — affectionately known as WCIJ World Headquarters — sustained water damage.

Fifth-floor offices of journalism faculty, graduate students and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism were among the most heavily damaged areas. Ceiling tiles were down and water could be seen standing in parts of the Center’s offices, which likely will take weeks to repair. Still unknown is the extent of damage to cameras, computers, recording equipment, furniture and files.

The Center’s staff of four professional journalists, two investigative reporters (an intern and a fellow), and two public engagement and marketing interns will work out of other locations — still to be determined — until the offices are repaired.

Sterling Anderson

The office of WCIJ Managing Editor Dee J. Hall and WPR Mike Simonson Memorial Investigative Reporting Fellow Sarah Whites-Koditschek holds important editorial records, including the evidence supporting years of WCIJ fact checks. The extent of the damage is not yet known.

Andy Hall, the Center’s executive director, said staff members already have practice in working outside the office. They used internet-based services to collaborate from their homes last week when severe cold led to the closure of campus buildings.

“We thought we could relax after making it through the polar vortex — but nope!” he said Sunday.

“We’re just glad that everyone is safe.”

In addition to the burst pipe at Vilas Hall, 821 University Ave., a water main break on Friday caused damage and led to the relocation of classes from the Chemistry Building, 1101 University Ave.

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