The night of September 29th, as a CU Boulder graduate student came to grab equipment, he noticed water leaking from the basement one level down onto the television studio on basement level two. One of many pipes in the irrigation system that runs throughout the CU Boulder campus broke.
As a result, water began to accumulate on the east side of the Atlas building, finding its way through a hole in the foundation.
The “black water,” or dirty water flooded both basement levels including severe damage to the television studio and the Black Box experimental dance studio located on the basement two level.
“It was literally raining in the space with all the equipment still on,” Bret Mann, the technical manager and broadcast engineer for the Atlas building recalled.
The following Monday, several classes in Atlas building basement were relocated temporarily.
Both the studios on the bottom level, however, were deemed to be out of commission until at least the end of the semester.
Both studios needed to be dried, sanitized and checked to see what equipment survived. The damage was extensive.
“I’ve been working on campus for 27 years now in broadcast television in different studios around campus and nothing like this has ever happened and it’s changed everything,” Mann said.
Mann described that his job was once checking to make sure the equipment was running, but now, his job is checking to see what damage has been done.
Gary McCrumb, the performance production manager for the Black Box studio said this flood brought back memories of his home he lost in the 2013 flood in Colorado.
“There is no space like the Black Box on campus, it’s a unique facility,” McCrumb said. “It’s a flexible use space, it had a sprung dance floor and that’s the big issue with rebuilding. We had to tear out most of the floor and probably rebuild the entire floor.”
There is no word on when the Black Box studio will be ready again. McCrumb is hoping to restore the studio the way it was and possibly adding new equipment and making it better.
Mann on the other hand, says that if it’s possible, he wants to update the equipment in the studio and this may be the perfect opportunity to do so.
“It’s a good studio but there’s also newer equipment out there and things that we could do a lot with,” Mann said. “I’m excited to have the possibility maybe of adding some of that newer equipment and making some changes to the studio and I really hope it goes that way for a lot of reasons.”
In the meantime, classes and groups that utilized both the television studio have found ways to broadcast their show throughout other locations on campus.
As for the groups who utilized the Black Box studio, however, McCrumb said that he’s struggling to find a place like the unique previous studio for the performers.
There is no exact date for when both studios will be ready for use. The final decision lies with the insurance adjusters.