Unfinished construction in E. Bronson Ingram raises safety concerns from students


Claire Barnett

E. Bronson Ingram on Friday, August 17, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Allison Mendoza

E. Bronson Ingram is the third residential college to open on Vanderbilt’s campus, and is part of the residential element of the university’s long-term land-use plan, FutureVU. Students moved into the unfinished building at the start of the school year and have been able to make use of most of the building while construction is still underway. However, the unfinished construction has left students frustrated and uncomfortable.

Although the building’s main entrance is set to be completed September 10, the limited amount of completed entrances and exits has sparked concern about emergency exits and fire safety.

“I haven’t heard anything in terms of what to do when there’s a fire, what stairwell to use, where stairwells go, I still don’t know where every stairwell leads to, I’m not even exactly sure where to get out if I had to experience that,” said sophomore Brooke Landry. “Some of the stairwells say they’re for emergency exits only and they’re sometimes locked which concerns me. They’ve been good about it recently but last week it was locked for a couple days.”

According to the Director of Emergency Preparedness, Fire and Workplace Safety Johnny Vanderpool, all of the building’s fire and life safety systems have been fully operational since the building opened. He also says that all stairwells and egress routes are open in case of an emergency evacuation.

“I’m happy to report that our tour did not discover any fire/life safety or security violations,” said Vanderpool. “Additionally, the building has been inspected by numerous city inspectors and they provided a building occupancy permit which is a final step in allowing residents to safely occupy the building.”

Landry is also concerned about the safety around the interim entrance for the residence hall, which is at the back of the building facing West End.

“At night, I’m walking in an alleyway on West End by myself, in the dark… there’s no street light, it’s very isolated and dark and I definitely don’t feel safe,” Landry said. “It’s also very open to the public and there’s a bus stop right there so it’s not just Vanderbilt people there, it’s the Nashville public.”

Vanderpool said additional security personnel are stationed on each floor monitoring and escorting construction personnel as construction continues. VUPD has also increased patrolling of the area and there is a blue light near the north corner of the area behind the building.

Landry acknowledged that although there will be entrances, finished bathrooms and working stairwells in the near future, knowing that the building is not entirely safe or secure makes her uneasy.

“I think the lack of communication is the biggest issue because I’ve gotten zero emails about it, maybe a comment from my RA, but besides that, she’s not even sure. She’s just guessing and trying to lift our spirits about the fact that we’re living in a building that’s not even finished yet.”

Vanderpool said construction is set to conclude around September 15th.

“We understand that the final phase of construction has been challenging and somewhat inconvenient to students, however the light is at the end of the tunnel and shining bright.”

Although the building will be finishing construction for the next two weeks, events and programming will continue unimpeded in the new hall.

Vanderbilt was able to utilize the Ingram Commons and Warren and Moore colleges as reference points when designing EBI. According to Dean of Students Mark Bandas, many of the physical spaces included in the building have improved Vanderbilt’s model for residential colleges.

The first floor of the building includes a great room, main lobby and servery. According to Dean Bandas, the great room is designed to be a homey, warm study space that brings in traffic from both residents and non residents. The servery provides mainly Asian cuisine, and the hall itself has mostly large tables to encourage table sharing and to foster student friendships and conversation.

Dean Bandas also said that the four outdoor courtyards that the first floor open to will allow pedestrian travel throughout the different sections of the building. Stairwells have also been widened so students can have impromptu conversations when they run into each other without blocking other pedestrian traffic.