Water from an overflowing tank near the top of the IDS Center cascaded down for several hours Tuesday night, damaging 25 upper floors of Minnesota's tallest skyscraper.
On Thursday, workers continued to tend to the evacuated 26th through 51st floors of the downtown Minneapolis tower. Along with the water damage from the overflow, power was cut to the affected areas as a safety precaution.
Many of the building's upper-floor workers were told to work from home — a transition made easier with the introduction of hybrid workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We did get very significant water damage in many areas of our office," said Jim Schwebel, CEO and managing partner of Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben.
The law firm has been a tenant of the IDS Center since 1974. Their offices on the 51st floor are below the tank that overflowed. The water damaged their ceilings, carpets and furniture.
Schwebel was monitoring the flooding situation Thursday while staff worked from home.
"We're comfortable that we know everything that can be done is being done, so many of our people are well-equipped to work from their homes," Schwebel said. "I guess we can thank the pandemic shutdown for that."
Meanwhile, food and drink establishments on the first and second levels of building's busy Crystal Court atrium were open Thursday, services workers said.
How it happened
The water expansion tank in the building's chiller room overflowed Tuesday following the replacement of a water meter by the city of Minneapolis, according to a statement put out by the building's owner, Accesso. That affected the building's electric equipment.
The decision to close down the upper portions of the building was made "out of an abundance of caution," Accesso's statement said.
The flow of water was stopped at 6:16 a.m. Wednesday, according to Accesso officials. Workers then focused on drying out the electrical equipment and common areas.
Staff are extracting carpets and placing fans throughout affected areas, Accesso officials said. Once dry, Accesso will work with property staff and contractors to fix the damage.
The estimated repair cost is still unclear, according to Accesso, which owns several buildings in Minnesota.
KFAI signal knocked out
The disruption has also impacted broadcast services on the roof of the IDS Center. Mason Butler, production manager for KFAI radio, said staff had a 45-minute warning before the broadcast grid was shut down. Fans of the station can still listen online.
The disruption has taken a bite out of the station's summer member drive this week, Butler said.
"At the moment, it's projected that our over-the-air signal will be down until the completion of that drive," Butler said. "So, we are at about a quarter of our goal, [whereas] normally we would be more than halfway there at this point."
Butler and Schwebel said they expect normal operations to return by the end of this week.
The 792-foot-tall IDS Center is a Minnesota landmark and has been featured in several movies. Completed in 1972, the 57-story building has nearly 2 million square feet of retail and office space. Its expansive Crystal Court atrium recently received a $5 million makeover.