Closet fire closes much of Marston for cleanup

Green floor fans and air circulators help dry second floor of Ma

Fans and air circulators were drying surfaces on the second floor of Marston Hall on Wednesday. Note that ceiling tiles have to be replaced. Photos by Christopher Gannon.

Work is underway to repair the damage caused by a fire in Marston Hall on Oct. 20. Wendy Kisch, interim associate vice president for facilities, planning and management, said she expects the first, second and third floors of the building will be closed for six to eight weeks.

police officer indicates closet where fire began

Capt. Zackary McVey, ISU Police, opens the cabinet in the third floor room where the fire started.

The fire, which started in a third floor storage area, was quickly extinguished, but there is smoke and water damage on several floors. Contractors are removing damaged walls and carpeting that must be replaced. The Ames Fire Department says it appears accidental, but an exact cause remains under investigation.

"We appreciate the quick response from Ames Fire and the tremendous team effort from our campus partners," Kisch said. "We are working to reopen the building as soon as possible, but the timeline will depend on availability of materials to make repairs."

Classes relocated for the rest of fall semester

Katie Baumgarn, classroom scheduling specialist, and the room scheduling team worked over the weekend to relocate more than 60 classes either directly or indirectly impacted by the fire, along with 37 special events, five night exams and 25 finals scheduled in Marston Hall.

Baumgarn said she is thankful for the flexibility of several departments that offered space and moved classes to make it all work. To limit disruption for instructors and students, she said classes will meet in their alternate locations for the remainder of the semester.

In addition to classes, several College of Engineering units in Marston Hall have relocated:

  • Student advising, Durham Center third floor
  • Career services, Durham Center first floor
  • Student recruitment, Student Innovation Center

Faculty and staff with offices on the fourth floor are working remotely until they can return to their offices on Monday, Oct. 30.

Art rescue

Two men on lift disassemble mobile-like sculpture

(l-r) Carpenter Gary Puls and electrician Collin Dodge, facilities planning and management, assisted with disassembling The Fifth Muse sculpture in the Marston Hall east entry. Image courtesy of university museums.

Marston Hall, which underwent a major renovation completed in 2016, features several works of campus art, including The Fifth Muse by artist Norie Sato. The sculpture installation resembles a mobile with more than 100 hanging objects that depict various aspects of engineering.

The day after the fire, Lynette Pohlman, director and chief curator with university museums, and a team of staff and volunteers removed the sculpture from the east entry ceiling, along with two paintings exhibited on the third floor. A conservator will assess the works of art this week. Pohlman said she is hopeful they won't need major restoration work, but just "an old-fashioned" cleaning with thousands of Q-tips and water.

"The response over the weekend was really a divisional effort with everyone pitching in," Pohlman said. "That's the great thing about Iowa State, everyone just steps up and helps out."


Front page photo: Teams from SERVPRO are on site to clean the smoke and water damage in Marston Hall.