initially published November 15, 2005
last updated - 28 Jan 2007

1.0 Introduction
During the last 5 years of talking to active undergraduate students, I have heard comments to paraphrase: I don’t know that APX is quite ready to handle sponge paint decoration yet; now that I have lived in the chapter house for 3 years and looked closer, I can see many flaws that newness clouded the details of a pledge, and the latest… Just how did APX get into this condition and what are YOU going to do about it? The role of each of these students has been that of the House Superintendent. They very often realize the magnitude of the tasks and are frustrated by the amount of work; the extent of planning and huge costs involved as they get familiar with the chapter house.

APX was placed on the National Register of Historic Places because it is not only architecturally significant, representative of Greek Lettered Building, as well as the names of the persons who have been involved with APX. During the late 1960’s and 1970’s University of Illinois was in a student housing expansion of which the popular housing type of Fraternities flourished. Many chapter houses were hungry to expand their prime campus property knowing the history of successful occupancy. Many chapter houses expanded the prime façade; enlarge study room occupancy with little need to expand the already gracious commons spaces. This modification eliminated their possibilities of National Register nominations until the addition itself claims 50 years of historic status. Alpha Rho Chi not only did not add onto their square footage; because of a lack of funds and limited membership APX did not even modify, repair, upgrade repair, nor remodel (except for the historic lighting is gone forever).

Therefore pristine, pure, unchanged historic fabric; APX easily met the National Registry requirement, but unfortunately major building systems such as roof; masonry exterior, chimneys, heating distribution/energy efficiency and interior finishes such as floors, plaster, doors and windows are in need of repair after over 80 years of consumption.

During 1927, a new chapter house was breaking ground at U of I for a new fraternal building each month, during the 1990’s more than 1 or 2 chapter houses were being torn down each year.

What is at hand is the recent issue of life safety “grand fathered” has been re-evaluated by University of Illinois and City of Champaign prompted by high risk occupancy and numerous examples of death and injury in chapter houses. See “Fire Safety Student Housing” October 1999. Commonly documented cause from 1979 to 1998 Fire List: occupant behavior activates/candles/cigarettes; some arson, electrical resulting in fatality and injury. The inspection process for approved housing process not only enforces life safety code but also property maintenance; National codes such as National Electric Code and intend to enforce these regulations.

Not only are major life safety issues being enforced such as: compartmentalization, egress upgrades, and automatic sprinkler system alarm system, but also the intent will remain to annually pursue property maintenance and maintenance of property, and life safety systems. We should expect that improper maintenance and lack of cleanliness will aggravate the inspection process.

During the 1990’s compartmentalization and egress upgrade was enforced when the City of Champaign adopted 1991 BOCA Code. Many university approved houses; fought, argued, closed, litigated, and the end result was numerous chapter houses closed and many chapter houses became U of I parking lots or a campus apartment on stilts with aluminum siding during the 1990’s.

We must now plan for our future and determine how to successfully operate, maintain and upgrade this fraternity for student of architecture; fine arts and allied studies. Our plan must include a timely solution to code issues at hand; sprinkler, gutters, roof and exterior painting, future life safety and property maintenance code violations; method of normal repair and maintenance; operations and depreciated items; occupancy issues and a time table. In short: “show me the way” issues have been outlined to study and discuss, this will help us to develop the master plan. Each person will see this plan differently and a group should evaluate these issues and make recommendations to the Control Corp. of APX.

The U of I fraternal system still boasts of a substantial Greek system. Actually a similar population lives in fewer chapter houses with greater density. The future will be that of the survival of the fittest.

1.1 Good News
Alpha Rho Chi interior has never cosmetically looked better, is organized, with an Alumni Associations and an active chapter interested and supportive, proud of our historic building. More attention has been given to the building in the last 10 years, than ever in its history.

1.2 Priorities
Each person who is evaluating this list would prioritize differently but this is suggested criteria. It is impossible to look into a crystal ball and know what minor flaw can become a major structural issue so as the squeaking wheel rolls the priorities change. When the boiler failed (long overdue) it became #1 priority and were forced without advanced planning; APX had to “put out another fire.” When the chimney flue caved-in and shut down the boiler and water heaters over Christmas break that work became a “must do” item at the wrong time of the year. When the pipes froze and destroyed plaster… when the stair structure started “moving” the priority list changed regardless of cash flow.

With this vintage building, some exploratory holes have been made and deficiencies visible and because the building repairs and upgrade were ignored for 50 years, here are several items that could become #1 priorities and cause new “squeaks.”

+ The City of Champaign fire department is intent to get Fraternities in Champaign compliant on a “Grandfather” code deficiency of providing automatic sprinkler system. At the annual meeting for fraternity and Sorority Housing - Building inspector meeting September 2003 the fire Chief explained that over the next 5 years (till 2008) Chapter Housing should voluntarily phase in the Automatic Sprinkler before the code is amended in council. Numerous Urbana Sororities which are liquid have completed sprinkler upgrade or will start this summer to benefit from insurance premium reductions. The Fire Chief produced a demonstrative fire movie and gave each house the free movie and report on Frat Fire/Board Resolution.

+ Water service is under sized. The water service at Gabe’s parking lot broke last year and flooded First Street, many services of other 1927 vintage building have been breaking on a regular basis for fraternities, and American Water Co. is regularly increasing pressure to improve service to city sprinklers and regular service thus accelerating pipe failure.

+ The exhaust hood / stove fire trap - Health Hazard - employee sink not within legal distance, bathroom fixtures were removed at sometime and room is a pm problem. Kitchen will need substantial work including new equipment when the occupancy requirements are determined.

+ The roof upgrade work approved in 1995 to spend annual repairs $4000 lasted for only 2 years until lack of cash flow or “putting out fires”: broken pipes, chimney failure, stairway deficiencies, boiler failure to stop the monoxide problem. Also vandalism by round balconies apartments damage new work just completed, this halted upgrade until last years with active leak in Room #17 caused by on going vandalism.

+ Property vandalism is high and causes a serious operation issue which frustrates the Active Chapter. Last year it came to blood and battles, we were fortunate the projectile damages have only been to the premises to this date. Each year there will be new campus tenant in the Round Balconies and new issue of vandalism. The salvage tile purchase in 1992 is gone and several new holes are WIDE OPEN and have been for years; squirrels are entering the attic and crawlspace in several locations. See roof upgrade section of Master Plan.

+ Water infiltration: Several exploratory holes below grade at boiler room revealed conditions of serious foundation flaws and are beyond tuck pointing and are at the point of wall rebuilding. This includes the North exterior entry wall. Leaking and overflows at bent gutters with hole directional and concentrated roof water flow to the exterior façade and periodically floods the basement, and ritual room. The basement dining room floods deep 1“-2” annually and sometimes 2 times yearly; fortunately ,but not always, over the summer when students are gone. Gutter and down spouts have caused a large block crack inside the 3rd floor plumbing chase, areaway drains are broken and plugged. These also have caused foundation damage and water leaks.

+ Masonry repair and tuck pointing has been ignored except for emergency repairs. See “Masonry” sections. Only large mortar holes were filled on 2 occasions. The exterior shell of this brick and stone building has not ever had seriously tuck pointing in the buildings 80 year life. Due to the height and exposure as well as the use for exhaust and fireplace flues, the three chimneys are vulnerable building components. Open mortar joints have caused the keystone to drop at the front (west) door frame to swell and not shut and the wrought iron balcony anchors to loosen. During wet season this door does not close nor latch.

1.3 Intent Statement
This report was primarily for backup to explain most items of work on the budget list and are a description of major issues, but not all issues. This scope is primarily attending to major building and life safety issues at hand and not necessarily future or specific user needs, operational concerns, or upgrades. Air Conditioning was only recently stated as a need due to interest in possibly alternative building use such as “Discover Architecture” Program.