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Demolition or renovation of Morley building may cost university

Nicholas Vergatos

Issue date: 10/17/08 Section: News
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The Morley building has not been used since 2002, when it was originally scheduled to be demolished. Currently, exact plans for the future of the building have not been set.
Media Credit: Denton Zhou
The Morley building has not been used since 2002, when it was originally scheduled to be demolished. Currently, exact plans for the future of the building have not been set.

Here at Case, most students are confident in their campus navigating abilities, and at least fairly aware of their surroundings. But how many of these students walk the path between Schmitt and Strosacker every day without a passing glance at the ivy-covered building nearby?

More than likely, the majority of passersby simply ignore the unused, dilapidated, seemingly nameless building tucked tightly between Eldred, Rockefeller, and Millis. This remnant of Case's past is the Morley Chemistry Laboratory. Those who have heard of it probably base their information on the accompanying apocryphal tale, which is some variation of the following: in the mid-1980s, four liters of mercury were mysteriously spilled down an elevator shaft with devastating results, contaminating the building and preventing its further use.

The actual story behind this historical building is much less sordid, according to Margaret Carney, university architect and campus planner. As she said, "There was some mercury that had been removed as part of the abatement process, but it's definitely not an issue. It's not what's holding us up now."

Decisions pertaining to the usage of buildings on campus are complicated, to say the least. The process is dependent on many factors such as the benefit of using or losing the building, the design of the building, and the resources available. The first step is to consult the master plan put together by Campus Planning and Operations. The plan serves as a guideline for the campus and lays out the priorities and future goals of the university. Being a research university, Case's building needs are restricted by footprint (the layout and configuration of a building) and building style.

"[The BioEnterprise building] has a footprint that is about 22,000 square feet per floor, and that is about the smallest footprint we would build at this point for an interdisciplinary research building," Carney states. The Morley building, if brought up to code, would only end up with 14,000 or 15,000 square feet of useable space per floor. This difference presents a contradiction to the design set forth by the master plan.
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