Moody Music Building Fire

Updates Will Be Added At The End

As many of you have likely heard by now, late this afternoon and this evening we experienced a rather major fire in the third floor sections of the south wing of the music building (the new band wing). At this point, the fire is under control and being closely monitored by the Tuscaloosa fire department. Please do not try to access the building.

First and foremost, no one was injured. Once the fire had been contained to the point that designated people could move in and out of the building, we were able to move many of the contents to other parts of the building.

There was extensive damage to that wing of the building. The fire was contained to the third floor, but substantial smoke and water damage occurred throughout that wing of the building, so there will be much repair work to do. The officials at the University of Alabama have been spectacular this evening even in these early hours. They have already stepped forward with plans to begin the reconstruction, and to move forward with all necessary repairs.

Meetings will be happening early tomorrow morning in order to assess all of the damage and begin to make a record of all that will need to be replaced. We will keep you fully informed as more information becomes available, but for now, we are all safe, there is a plan in place to move forward, and this will be OK!

The spring of 2020 will continue to be one for the record books. But, as I say at the opening convocation each and every year, “the University of Alabama School of Music is not a building, it is the people. It is us. I am extremely thankful for each and every one of you! And, the building will be rebuilt.

-Professor and Director, Skip Snead

Update: Monday evening, April 20

The University has continued to be spectacular in their support, as they have acted very quickly in initiating plans to begin with the demolition phase as early as the end of this week. The initial bid process was conducted this afternoon and a contractor will be designated within days. This is unprecedented speed relative to such a process, and we have had outstanding support in the last 24 hours from every aspect of the University. President Bell, Dean Messina, and a range of Vice Presidents from multiple areas of the campus have been terrific.

After initial walk-throughs earlier today the engineers have determined that they will essentially strip the South wing down to the structural elements, leaving ductwork, wiring, and structural elements in place. Otherwise, everything (surfaces of walls, flooring, ceilings, and much of the rest) (Entire roof and much of the 3rd floor) will need to be replaced. All internal contents (furniture, and other various appointments) will also be replaced. We have a variety of meetings tomorrow, with a variety of insurance adjusters, to get of all of this cataloged, classified, and fully covered. The specific timeline for completion of reconstruction is not yet known, but this process is moving with unprecedented speed. Once again, we are very grateful to everyone in construction administration and related groups as they have all stepped up in a major way.

Today, with the assistance of Ken Ozzello, Kevin Wellborn, Jeremy Crawford, Amir Zaheri, and a substantial team from construction administration, we were able to clear the rest of the contents from the damaged sections of the building that were inaccessible last evening. Some of what we were able to access today will ultimately be a total loss, but much of it will be salvageable, and fully usable as insurance will also cover necessary cleaning and repairs. Tomorrow, we will once again organize in the afternoon to clear remaining items from the building, in order to get them catalogued, photographed, and stored.

So, we are on track, headed rapidly in the right direction, and looking forward to the future. With all things considered, we have much for which to be thankful. Although it’s been a very long night followed by a very long day, we have been consistently heartened and gratified by the amazing reaction that has come forward from literally hundreds who have reached out wishing to offer support of every possible kind. We, as the University of Alabama School of Music family have so many, in some many places, who care for us and have expressed their concern.

-Professor and Director, Skip Snead

Update: Tuesday afternoon, April 21

Much of the information shared yesterday remains consistent today. Everything has continued to move aggressively forward in a positive direction over the course of the day today. A great deal of cleanup occurred today so that the inside of the building was simply safer and more accessible for the continued salvage operation(s) that went on all day long. A number of different segments of the University were present today (salvaging various parts of the building and internal equipment), along with a well-organized group from the SOM (including all those present yesterday), GTAS and staff members from the MDB, Jon Whitaker (documenting with photographs), Andrew Lynge  (percussion equipment expert) and Ben Woolf. A lot of people have worked very hard on our behalf.

The salvage operations will be completed tomorrow, as the building will be officially handed over to the demolition contractor at noon on Thursday. The demolition strip-down process is expected to take through the later weeks in May, at which point in time we will (almost immediately) convert from a demolition phase to a construction phase.

Once again, we want to highlight the extraordinary support that has come from the University. So much progress has been made at this point; so many plans have been made and already implemented; we have a very clear path forward; and, we are still only 48 hours out from the actual event.

Potential timelines still have too many variables for accurate projections, but this is moving quickly. They are fully dedicated to getting us back to “normal” absolutely as quickly as possible.

-Professor and Director, Skip Snead

Update: Thursday morning, April 23

Yesterday, we had another very successful day relative to salvage operations, preparations, planning, and overall support as we proceed towards the demolition/refit of the south wing of the building. That phase begins today at 12:00 PM (Noon). The same cast of characters named in updates earlier this week, plus an extended crew of student/staff members from the MDB worked many long hours getting everything (everything) that needed to be salvaged/saved/preserved from every corner, shelf, and other location in the damaged wing of the building. As mentioned in previous updates, much of what was in that wing was not ultimately salvageable, but our folks were extremely creative and helpful relative to what was. Simply stated, we are comprehensively “out” of the South wing of the building, as it all becomes the official property of the demolition contractor at noon today.

It is remarkable what has been accomplished in the past few days. I want to reinforce once again how spectacular the University has been in their support of us and this project. Between UA construction, risk management, UAPD, and a wide variety of other offices and personnel, they have been working literally around-the-clock to push this project forward. Within hours of the state insurance adjuster being on site Tuesday, the state of Alabama had already released a substantial amount of initial funding so as to get this project moving quickly and avoid any unnecessary delays. That is extraordinary! The support from our University community and the state of Alabama has been incredible. And, the dedication, attitudes, and sincere belief in this project from every single person related to this job is remarkable.

As an additional sign of support, President Bell came yesterday morning and did a walk-through of the entire south wing, surveying the damage for himself. As Ken Ozello and I walked with him and the engineers throughout the severely damaged building, I was drawn to the fact that the bulk of the conversation was not about the extraordinary damage, but about the rebuilding, the future, and how all of this will be made completely “right”, stronger, and better. Throughout this event, the level of concern and support for our program has been sincere and certain, through every level of the university, from logistics all the way through the President’s office.

This afternoon, the South wing of the building and its immediate surroundings become an official construction site. There is still no timetable relative to the duration of the project, but even on the rapidly accelerated plan, this will take time.  As we move towards whatever our conditions will be for the coming fall semester, I know the strength and dedication of our School of Music community. We will move ahead continuing to accomplish amazing things in whatever environment may present itself.

-Professor and Director, Skip Snead

Update: Friday morning, April 24

All is still proceeding positively forward as planned. We were contacted yesterday by the University office for design and furnishings. They asked the following question: “Having had several years in the building, with an opportunity to plan a “do over”, what finishes, appointments, or items would you like to change and improve as the building returns?”  This just further reinforces the remarkable degree of support we are experiencing. Not only are they bringing our building back as quickly as possible, it will come back with improvements! We look forward to that day!

Admittedly, leaving the building for the last time yesterday was hard, knowing that it will not be “ours” for a while. The feeling of  “leaving it behind” was difficult. But, knowing it is going to be fixed, made new, and returned to us “better than ever” keeps the vision solidly forward. I sincerely look forward to the time that we will once again be in it together.

To some degree by chance, and maybe just a bit by design, the final thing I took with me when I left the building today was a simple sign, to which we have all become accustomed, that reads, “Where Legends are Made”. Without a doubt, many legends will once again be made in that space!

This will be the last building update for a while, as our part of this process has ended for a while.

-Professor and Director, Skip Snead