The MacKenzie Fine Arts Center Elevator Breaks Down

Illustration of broken elevator and students waiting by T'Ara Stamps
Illustration by T'Ara Stamps

Since early November 2022 students and faculty in the Fine Arts building F on Henry Ford College’s main campus in Dearborn have had to deal with the only elevator in that building breaking down. This breakdown has left handicapped students unable to gain access to any classes that may take place on the second floor and teachers unable to adequately bring materials to classes on the second floor or materials from the second floor to areas around campus.

Currently the college is working with the contracted elevator company, KONE, to look for replacement parts for the elevator. But citing a lack of elevator repair staff and the lack of parts for aging elevators, this process seems to be slow going. During this time Margaret Crouch, 67, came back to school to learn professional fine arts techniques. Crouch, who needs the aid of a walker, was unable to access her classes on the second floor of building F during the Fall 2022 semester once the elevator broke.

Interim Dean Robert Yahrmatter was able to work with Crouch’s teachers to be able to allow her to continue to participate in her classes within one of the other ground floor classrooms. Crouch stated, “It was just so frustrating to be at the bottom of the steps and watch all my fellow students and my professor go up the steps and leave me sitting there.” Crouch never entertained the thought of dropping the class, not wanting to quit.

Faculty who wanted to bring materials for teaching from the building’s basement to the first or second floor had to resort to carrying them up and down stairs. This ranged from 50 lbs bags of powdered clay to be utilized in the ceramics rooms to full costume racks for the theater’s performance of “The Passage.”

The college is currently working with KONE and other companies in an on-going effort to modernize the college’s elevators. They have fully renovated the elevators in K building and have been able to partially modernize the ones in buildings E, H, and G. Currently the ones that are lined up next are the L building, and the currently broken elevator in F. This renovation process has been in the works since 2019. But while this project continues without a clear timeline, students and staff are left with what to do while the elevator is down. As of right now the college has been able to manually work the elevator in building F to bring some of the equipment for faculty from the basement to the ground floor.

While the elevator is still not fully functional, there are some options being provided for both students and faculty.

Students are encouraged to reach out to Campus Safety by calling 313-845-9630, or using the campus phones and dialing extension 9911, or using the metal emergency phone boxes located around campus.

While students who use a mobility aid may not be able to use the elevator to reach second floor classes in the fine arts building. Students are encouraged to reach out to their teachers if they need accommodations for their classes while the elevator is being repaired.

For faculty who need to transport items up from the basement to the ground floor of the fine arts building, they have been told to contact facilities and have the items transferred through the college’s tunnel system to one of the campus buildings with a freight elevator and brought to the ground level and carried back over to the fine arts building.

While the college has not announced a date when students or staff may be able to utilize the elevator in the fine arts building, college officials do estimate that there will be a new elevator installed later this year.