Several people who are familiar with the Glove Factory say the building could use some updates.
Physical issues such as fire hazards, leaks and minimal storage space have caused some students and faculty to become concerned about the Glove Factory, where some of the university’s art classes and studios are housed. Although plans are in place to improve the building’s functionality by adding an elevator, Jerry Monteith, head of Graduate Studies for Art and Design, said the facility could still use some improvements.
The building once housed the Good Luck Glove Factory, but the university later purchased the building and converted it into classroom and studio space. Phil Gatton, Plant and Service Operations director, said SIUC renovated the building in the late ’80s.
Rachael McIndoo, a senior from Oakbrook Terrace studying painting, said fire could spread quickly because the structure is composed of a large amount of wood. Artists hang up privacy curtains over their studios while they are working, which she said is another potential fire hazard.
“We work with solvent, turpentine, oils, stuff like that,” McIndoo said. “If something did get on fire, even though it is brick on the outside, it could go up pretty fast.”
At several second floor spots, holes in the woodwork open to the floor below, which makes it possible for small objects to fall down to the first floor. Many holes have been covered, but several remain open.
Monteith said leaking can also be an issue. A room on the first floor that holds a welding machine with a gas tank hooked up to it has come into contact with leaks before, he said.
“At one point, I came in and water had leaked in and around this machine,” Monteith said. “It’s a safety issue.”
He said plans are still in talks for an elevator inside the building, which would provide easier access between the three levels. Storage space on the first floor is limited, he said, and the elevator could help students and professors reach basement storage easier.
Alex Lopez, sculpting associate professor, said the university is good about fixing problems when they occur.
“After one of the bigger storms that we had when several buildings fell down, they came out immediately (to fix leaks),” Lopez said. “Water and electricity don’t mix.”
The building has held up through strong storms, too, he said. One particular storm blew the roof off the Carbondale police station in April 2011, and he said the Glove Factory was relatively unscathed.
Lopez said the School of Art and Design works closely with Plant and Service Operations and the Center for Environmental Health and Safety to make sure codes are met.
While issues do exist, Monteith said, the Glove Factory is in relatively good condition compared to the Foundry, a university complex composed of two buildings that house sculpture studios.
Only one room in the Foundry is air conditioned, Monteith said, and the rest of the building becomes very hot during the summer. The building has no water fountains, either, he said.
“It seems like a lot of times there’s a tendency to forget about some of the problems that are maybe just a little bit hidden,” Monteith said.
The Glove Factory’s basement and second floor have air conditioning, he said, but the first floor does not.
Gatton said no projects are planned for the Glove Factory, and the last major project he can remember is the construction of a new roof on the building four years ago. Plant and Services Operations has a 24-hour hotline for students and faculty to call with university building problems, he said.
Despite any issues as far as the building’s physical condition, Monteith said many graduate students look back fondly on their time at the factory.
“You say the Glove Factory, and their eyes will light up,” he said. “They remember the history of that place.”