BREAKING NEWS: DC Commission of the Arts Building ceiling collapses

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  • Mayor Gray speaking at event moments before ceiling collapse Mayor Gray speaking at event moments before ceiling collapse
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  • Teron Hawkins looking at video from ceiling collapse Teron Hawkins looking at video from ceiling collapse

WASHINGTON, August 16, 2013 (Updated) – An ‘All White Attire’ affair turns to dusty grey as Mayor Gray escapes a close call at newly opened DC Commission of the Arts building.

At one minute to 9 p.m. last night, and as legendary GO GO band Rare Essence cranked the volume, two huge sections of the ceiling of the new exhibit hall at the newly opened DC Commission of the Arts building collapsed. The building at 200 Eye Street, SE, is the home of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

“The incident took place in the lobby of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities office, which is in a building on I Street SE leased by the District government,” says Rob Marus, spokesperson from the Mayor’s office . “The developer is Stonebridge Carras and the base building was by Davis Construction. It involved spray-on acoustical material that apparently separated from the ceiling. The material that failed was applied only in the lobby area of the building, and no other areas of the building have the same material.”

“There were minor injuries,” Mr. Marus continued. “The Mayor left the event just a few minutes before the incident occurred.  When it happened, he was quickly briefed on what happened by Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander.”

According to Chairwoman Judith Terra, the Commission had just occupied the space in September of 2012 and had planned this long awaited interactive exhibit of art, music, photography, fashion and poetry to celebrate the history of home grown GO GO music genre.

Mayor Vincent Gray had just announced the planned dedication of Chuck Brown Park on August 22nd at 18th and Franklin Street, NE a half hour earlier and kicked off the evening’s music entertainment before leaving the elegant all white affair just in time to avoid a disaster as grey ceiling plaster rained down on the stage area that he just exited.

“I was relieved to hear that no one was seriously hurt in this incident, but obviously still very concerned,” said Mayor Gray. “After being briefed on the situation, I directed Department of General Services Director Brian Hanlon to immediately determine the cause and to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of the D.C. government workers who work in the building and residents who visit it.”

Rare Essence keyboardist Byron Jackson was bloodied and battered with multiple wounds to his head and nose, and Teron Hawkins of Anwan Big G Glover’s Backyard Band was seen, also injured and dazed on the sidewalk as security immediately evacuated the building lobby and exhibit area as the fashionable crowd milled outside as EMS and fire engines surrounded the building.

Ironically, David Jacobs III a Code Compliance Inspector from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, was the first to comfort injured visitors in the exhibit area before police, fire and emergency personnel could respond.

Approximately 300 attendees experienced a spectacular night of art, music and high fashion before the landmark celebration of African, Latin, Jazz and Funk music literally brought the roof down.


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Malcolm Lewis Barnes

As a credentialed professional photo journalist, Mr. Barnes writes for the SQUARE BUSINESS journal, served as the Business Editor and columnist for the Washington Informer, and the Community Development writer for The Common Denominator newspaper

Contact Malcolm Lewis Barnes

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