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The Palmer Colored Tiles of Death Are No More

Apprehension, fear, sheer panic: those were once the thoughts as students attempted to survive the colored tile sidewalk in front of the Palmer Museum of Art on the way to Forum in the rain. For some, the sense of fear was exhilarating; for others, and those who consistently fell prey, it was a living hell every time it rained.

Okay, that is a bit too dramatic, but when your foot loses its grip and your heart skips a beat, you understand the absolute terror I’m talking about. The colorful tiles in front of the Palmer Museum were notoriously slippery because of the makeup in the paint — so much so that something needed to be done.

The tiles are gone now; their reign of terror over. No more breaking into a sweat at the thought of walking to Forum in the rain. The once artistic tiles were sponge-jetted down to the original concrete, making the journey much safer. I talked to UPUA Facilities Chair Jeff Holzer, who helped put an end to the Palmer tiles last semester.


According to Holzer, Penn State OPP contracted local environmental contracting company, Penoco, Inc. to sponge-jet the paint off the sidewalk in a series of enclosures to ensure safety to passerby. “That is why the movable ‘sheds’ have been there, because they sand blast the tile in the sheds and a connected vacuum picks up the sand, paint, and fumes,” Holzer said.

The project started just before Thanksgiving break and concluded yesterday. Also the UPUA Representative to the College of Arts and Architecture, Holzer was familiar with this issue and the complaints about it. “I made it part of my platform for the election season to resolve this issue and was given the opportunity by being the Chair of Facilities,” he said.

From there, through meetings with the Facilities Fee Advisory Board and submissions to UPUA’s WTF program, they came to the decision of removing the paint.

Before this change, no one was safe from the colored tiles. While he personally had never suffered the embarrassment of wiping out in front of Palmer, Holzer said he has heard plenty of horror stories throughout the process.

“I have friends who have fallen and even know faculty who have fallen,” he said. He told stories of students zig-zagging through the area to avoid slipping and the generations of students that knew this area was a serious problem.

But now, the Palmer tiles are a thing of the past. You can walk with confidence and fearlessness on your way to class now, as long as you avoid those damn painted crosswalks. Don’t even get me started.


UPDATE: Jan. 20, 10:30 p.m. — In an earlier version of this post, the method of removing the paint was listed as “sandblasting” according to a UPUA representative. It was corrected to clarify that the paint was removed using a sponge-jet method. The removal was also done by an outside company, not Penn State OPP as originally posted.

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About the Author

Sarah Desiderio

Senior. Print Journalism Major, English and Sociology Minors. I'm smarter than the average 9 year old and funnier than most plants.

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