Main Building undergoes face-lift

WILL THE Main Building last another century?

Portions of the Main Building, such as the clock and the tower, are undergoing repairs as part of efforts to preserve the iconic structure, which UST officials believe will last for another 100 years, or even more.

Sonny Cabie, general foreman of one of the restoration projects, said his group has repaired the housing of the clock by water-proofing, or the application of concrete epoxy after removing cracked concrete, followed by plastering.

The same process was used in the restoration of the building’s exterior, which had cracks. It was completed last May.

Cabie said his team was also repairing the clock’s frame, but another contractor was assigned to repair the main parts of the clock.

There is a proposal to restore the statues on top of the Main Building, which has suffered from exposure to the elements, said Enrique Sta. Maria, in-house architect of the University.

Despite all the work needed, the Main Building remains “intact and generally in good condition,” said Fr. Isidro Abaño, O.P., director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

“What is important is to prolong the life of the building by lessening the intrusion of harmful elements, whether by natural or human causes, and applying repair where damage has been done,” he said.

Abaño said a building’s deterioration can be caused by external and internal factors. The former includes pollution, earthquake, and movement due to nearby construction. Internal factors include modification, construction, and works done inside the building which compromise its integrity.

Sta. Maria said deterioration could also be caused by age, wear and tear, and introduction of new technologies such as closed-circuit cameras and air-conditioning systems.

Abaño said: “While we have to consider the needs [of the building’s occupants], particularly the updating of facilities, we must also be careful with what we are introducing to the building.”

Sta. Maria said University officials are “careful” in renovating the building because they have to take certain things into consideration.

“Since the Main Building is already a national treasure, hindi na basta-basta magtitibag,” he said.

Restoration was supposed to be finished before the end of the Quadricentennial year, but is already delayed because of classes and uncontrollable factors such as inclement weather.

The Main Building, the first earthquake-proof structure in Asia, was among the four landmarks of the University declared as “National Cultural Treasures” by the National Museum in January.

Sta. Maria said the building, which was built by Fr. Roque Ruaño, O.P. in 1927, was designed to stand for hundreds of years and could last up to more than 200 years.

“Actually, the Main Building is only 84 years old, so we hope it will still be a monument after 100 years or more,” Abaño said. “Future generations of Thomasians will be very grateful if the Main Building still stands as a monument when they celebrate another centenary in 2111.”

The preservation effort involves the UST Center for the Conservation of the Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, the National Historical Institute, the Museum of Arts and Sciences, the Facilities Management Office, and the National Museum. Daphne J. Magturo

NHCP

On May 12, 2010, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the law reverting the National Historical Institute (NHI) into its original form as the National Historical Commission of the Philippines or NHCP.

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