A storm that generated six inches of water in 30 minutes flooded Cullen Auditorium in mid-June damaging the building and forcing weeks of repairs.
Chris Cornell, who worked in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning in the Department of Facilities and Campus Management, helped with the restoration.
“I went to work on Tuesday morning and found out that one of my co-workers had stayed the night to pump out water from the auditorium,” said Cornell, junior social studies teacher certification major from Duarte, Calif. “The storm water from the storm crashed in through the windows and went up to the fifth row of chairs.”
The Roy and Lillie Cullen Auditorium, erected in 1978, has an architectural design of a proscenium theater, which results in a bowl-shaped layout that causes water to collect easily. Physical resources worked over night to contain the disaster.
For weeks, huge machines could be seen pumping out water from Cullen, and the university hired a professional company for water restoration and removal.
Tom Craig, director of student activities, manages Cullen Auditorium and witnessed the damage firsthand.
“The damages were extensive,” Craig said. “Over the course of the summer we have replaced a lot of sheet rock. We’ve repainted, placed new carpets, a new stage and rebuilt the dressing rooms.”
The 804 affected seats were taken out, treated and cleaned before being placed back in again.
Craig said new chairs have been ordered but will not be installed until Christmas break because installation will need a three-week window.
Cullen will get new curtains on Oct. 1. The sound and lighting system has been upgraded. The auditorium’s new paint job consists of purple, black and grey.
“Basically we have a new facility,” said Craig. “At the same time we are getting ready to start an exterior reconstruction plan to help prevent this from happening again.”
Cullen had its first official activity on Wednesday of Welcome Week. Cullen is fully functional, but construction will be ongoing. Students will continue to have Freshmen Follies and Cornerstone spotlight classes in the auditorium.