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  • Noah Spiece

Broken Glass Above the Kirk Center Entrance, Physics Did It

In early January, students were greeted with yellow caution tape blocking off one of the front doors at the Kirk Center. The cause: the glass above the door was cracking. The culprit: physics.

Larry Colvin, director of Facilities Management, said that the crack in the glass was most likely caused by the Kirk Center doors slamming shut. This happens because of the negative air pressure inside of the building. The kitchen exhausts air, which leaves the air pressure inside the Kirk Center much lower than that of outdoors, so when a door is opened the air rushes in and can slam the door shut. The slamming of the door shakes the aluminum frame of the building and puts stress on the glass, which can cause it to crack.

To ensure that this does not happen again, Colvin intends to install an air heating unit in the rear of the Kirk Center, which would heat up air and feed it into the building to equalize the air pressure.

To keep students away from the danger, Olivet College’s Physical Plant put up caution tape and a sign warning people not to walk under the door. Colvin said that they needed to keep students away from the area because it is plate glass. If the plate glass had cracked enough, it would fall down in large chunks, injuring a student or faculty member.

With one of the two doors to the Kirk Center blocked off, flow into and out of the building was slowed. On the matter, freshman Ashley Santo said, “It was frustrating when people needed to get in but other people were coming out at the same time; it created a traffic jam.”

Freshman Samuel Arce said, “I always used to go in and out that door, but now I have to walk a few feet extra every day to go through the other one; it affects me so much. And that thing gets clogged, you know, like a toilet. There’s only one door everyone has to squeeze through, you know how many people I almost hit?”

Battle Creek Glass was called in to replace the cracked glass. Colvin chose to hire them because “they’re the best around.” The new glass Battle Creek Glass installed has plastic shielding, so if it does break again, it will break into small pieces instead of large chunks.

Photo by Keyon Rainey

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