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SA proposes to reopen floor as observation deck

A Student’s Association committee is planning to draft a proposal to open one of the top floors of the UT Tower as an indoor observation deck, the committee’s chairman said Wednesday.

Mike Gray, the chairman of the Student Services Committee, said the proposal would allow students, faculty and the public access to the 26th floor of the Tower, which is now occupied by data processing personnel.

Gray, an architecture senior, said the committee does not yet know who will pay for the opening, which is said to cost between $88,000 and $150,000. He anticipates that the proposal will be finished in the next few weeks.

"I’m leery about raising money from students, "Gray said. "It’s a University building and I think the University should pay for it out of General Services fees."

The Tower was closed in early 1975 shortly after an Undergraduate Library clerical assistant became the seventh person in the Tower’s history to commit suicide by falling 231 feet to his death. Two other Tower deaths were ruled accidents.

G. Charles Franklin, vice president for Business Affairs, said suicide is one reason why the Tower had remained closed.

"The proposal wouldn’t be a good idea because there’s an attraction for suicide," he said.

But Gray said that the committee will take suicide into consideration when they draft the proposal.

"Using the interior [as an observation deck], we’ll be able to avoid people jumping off the Tower," Gray said.

"There isn’t any access to the exterior. The view from the windows isn’t great, but it’s safer than opening the 27th floor."

UT graduate Joseph Johnson said that it would be difficult to eliminate all the dangers associated with opening the Tower.

"If you tried to eliminate every possibility of negative things happening, then we would miss out on a lot of wonderful things," he said.

Gray said that a proposal to open the exterior of the 27th floor and renovate the 26th floor into a coffee shop was turned down last year by the University Council.

"That idea was ridiculous," Gray said. "In order to run the coffee shop, you have to have a lot of coffee. The only way to get coffee up to the 26th floor is by using one of the elevators."

Franklin said that the two elevators that operate the Tower would not be enough for both employees and sightseers.

"There’s not adequate elevator space to handle the traffic," Franklin said.

Gray said the proposal may call for closing the Tower during business hours.

"We don’t want everyone and their dog going out there," Gray said. "We are going to look into opening it on weekends, especially football weekends, and maybe at night on the weekdays."

Daily Texan. February 25, 1993.
Article by: Jeff Mead

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3 May 1999
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