Towne Field House Closing

Williams students, faculty and staff,

I let you know earlier this week that the Field House was temporarily closed for maintenance. Today I write to inform you that the building will unfortunately have to remain closed for the rest of this term and likely longer, so that we can fix newly-identified structural problems that make the facility unsafe for use.

While responding to a work order last week, Facilities staff discovered problems with the glulam beam supporting the southeast corner of the roof—the corner by the driveway, across the street from the Gargoyle Gate. So-called “glulam” beams are made from layers of lumber laminated with structural adhesives. When the Facilities staff discovered the problem, they immediately closed and secured the building until we could bring in our consulting structural engineer to assess the situation.

The engineer found that the glulam was delaminating and its load-bearing capacity had been significantly compromised as a result. He also noted that the south exterior wall of the field house had been settling and now shows signs of movement near that same southeast corner of the building. Overall, he declared the building unsafe for use, which is why we’ve kept it closed.

The engineer will now inspect the building’s six other glulam beams and buttress assemblies. His analysis and any prescribed permanent repairs are likely to take many months, and the building will have to remain completely off-limits during the process.I’m sorry for this unwelcome news. The closure comes during a time of year when there’s less activity in the facility than during other seasons. Even so, we recognize the impact in terms of lost access to the climbing wall and indoor practice space for inclement weather. The Athletic Department Facilities Scheduling Coordinators are working on alternative arrangements for all known uses, and will confirm these plans with leaders of the affected activities.

Please understand that the decision was made out of an overriding concern for people’s safety. On that note, I want to offer the college’s thanks to the students who promptly reported to Facilities the original issue that led to our discovery; and also the Facilities staff who quickly and accurately assessed that problem, then took decisive action to protect everyone. We appreciate you taking on this responsibility. We’ll now take the time necessary to address the problems and restore the building to a safely usable state.


Chief Communications Officer
Williams College
63 Spring St. (above the Purple Pub), 3rd floor
Tel: 413-597-2025