Students living at Lambeth Field Apartments will be on more stable ground in upcoming years when the Housing Division completes its plans to rebuild all exterior staircases in the complex.
Officials plan to replace the weather-worn structures in two phases over the next two summers. Initial construction will begin in May.
"With metal being exposed to the weather, it rusts after a certain period of time," said Roger Deane, Housing Division emergency callbacks official.
Because of their metal and concrete construction, the staircases trap moisture inside, causing the structures to deteriorate, Deane said.
"That's just a no-no," he said. "You don't lock moisture into something and expect it not to" have problems.
The new staircases will be built of concrete instead of metal, and the new staircases are expected to last for 20 or 30 years, he added.
The structural faults and weathering effects already have caused one staircase to collapse under a student in building 467, and Lambeth residents said they will feel more secure when the stairs are replaced.
"It's obvious they are in disrepair," second-year College student Emily McMullin said. "I had to call maintenance the first week I was here because there was a hole the size of a football in the staircase to our building."
The project realistically cannot be completed in less than two years, said Ken Smith, Facilities Planning and Construction director.
"We've always felt it was very difficult to get work done in one summer," Smith said.
Facilities Management also is planning eventually to refurbish the interiors of the Lambeth Field Apartments, but construction start dates have not been determined.
"We have requested authorization for interior refurbishment -- that will mainly involve the kitchen areas," Smith said.