‘Buildings with great bones’: An interview with the head of LSU Facility Services

By Robert Mann

From the outside, much of the 2,000-acre LSU campus is beautiful. Take a stroll across the grounds and you’ll spot hundreds lovely buildings surrounded by stunning live oaks. Many of LSU’s 250 principal buildings, those built before World War II, are of a distinctive style, “based on the Renaissance domestic style of northern Italy (tan stucco walls, red tile roofs),” according to the school’s website. Newer buildings conform to that classic style.

Most of these buildings appear well maintained. The roofing tiles are in fine shape, replaced or repaired as necessary. Many windows are new. The brick or stucco walls are sound and generally clean. In most cases, the grounds are well maintained – not exactly manicured, but attractive and pleasing, nonetheless. In other words, LSU’s campus almost sparkles.

Inside, however, it’s a different story.

As I have documented over the past several months, many of the buildings on the LSU campus (and college campus across the state) are in awful condition. Inside, too many buildings are in deplorable shape.

In particular, I have focused on the Middleton Library, the Huey P. Long Field House, Foster Hall and the Dalrymple Building. In coming weeks, I will take a closer look at other buildings on the campus.


Plastic sheeting covers copies of the Congressional Record in the basement of LSU’s Middleton Library

Each building has its own series of problems – worn or damaged carpets, water damage to ceilings and floors, missing ceiling tiles and disgusting or inoperable bathrooms. The list of problems inside LSU’s buildings is long and disturbing.

The deferred maintenance that has piled up in the past decade or more is staggering. It is difficult to imagine the state might ever give LSU the resources to repair or restore even a fraction of the buildings that are in such horrible condition.

In almost every case, the disrepair of LSU’s campus is due to the lack of funds for repair or restoration. Like every other unit on campus, LSU’s Office of Facility Services has suffered from the severe budget cuts. Resources are scarce and the funds available to Facility Services for maintenance of the campus buildings has generally gone to keeping the so-called “envelope” – roofs and windows – sound and watertight. In other words, staff focus on keeping moisture out so that when and if the state provides funds for renovation, the buildings’ “bones” will be sound.

After publishing more than a month’s worth of blog posts on the poor condition of LSU’s campus, I sought out the head of LSU’s Facility Services, Tony Lombardo, for an interview. I knew that Facility Services was not to blame for the poor condition of LSU’s buildings. I also knew that Lombardo and his hardworking staff face enormous challenges and frustrations in trying to keep the campus together with limited resources. I wanted to know how Facility Services does it.

Lombardo was kind enough to grant me a lengthy interview. He patiently answered all my questions about the ways he and his staff keep the buildings from falling apart.

Lombardo is LSU’s associate vice president for Facility and Property Oversight. He also serves as the facilities officer for the A&M campus, responsible for the oversight of maintenance, facility operations, utility production and acquisition, construction and design. He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Louisiana. Before coming to LSU 18 years ago, he conducted environmental research for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a consulting professional. Lombardo received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from LSU in 1990 while concurrently acting as owner and operator of a small IT services company.

What follows is an edited and condensed version of our 75-minute conversation.

Mann: I go into either Dalrymple Hall or the annex. Is that building even salvageable in any way?

Lombardo: Oh, absolutely.

Mann: It is?

Lombardo: In fact, that’s one of the old buildings.

Mann: Not Dalrymple but the annex.

Lombardo: The annex? Yeah. It’s a building with great bones. Those are masonry walls in that building that are this thick. [He holds his hands about a foot apart.] The right amount of money, you go in there and do a renovation. It’s only, I think, 2,500 or 2,700 square feet. That could be a game changer in that building. That annex is on the core historic registry.

Mann: You can’t tear it down?

Lombardo: That one’s not going anywhere.

Mann: But when you’re looking at a building like that or maintenance and all that, you’re describing the way you’re trying to balance the—

Lombardo: What’s the student impact, is it going to completely shut down research, and can it survive the lack of funding until we do have some? You look at some of the construction periods on the campus. That’s one of the earliest ones. It is one of the most survivable of the construction methodologies. While it looks really bad, you can bring that back easier than the stuff that was built in 50s and 60s, which …

Mann: Why is that?

Lombardo: Just the construction quality, like I mentioned. That thing has masonry walls that are 14 inches thick or something like that.

Mann: Structurally, it’s sound in a way that some of these newer building are not?

Lombardo: You look at Dairy Science, for example, another terrible building. It needs work. But that building, unless we have to do something that’s life safety – another risk management issue or student impact – it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to throw money at it because, really, that building is not a high performer for us. It doesn’t have a whole lot of student impact and should probably come down in the next iteration of the master plan. For us to take limited resources and apply it to that makes absolutely no sense.

Faculty Senate, Nov. 8, 2012

Executive Director of Facility Services Tony Lombardo answers a question on Nov. 8, 2012, in the Capital Champers in the Student Union.

Mann: Talk about your personnel issues and challenges.

Lombardo: If you make a cut in building services or cleaning, it’s easier to come back from that because you clean today, you clean next week at the same time. If you start adjusting those things downward, it is recoverable because the moment you have funding back, you can make those hires and you’re back to where you were minus a little bit of wear and tear which, in the scheme of things, we’re already beyond that.

Second would be your landscape areas where you trim that back and it takes longer to recover from it. You’ve got to throw a lot of people at it and a lot of expensive services. Then, it’s so equipment-intensive that if you have to let some of that go, it’s hard to bring that program back which is where you see … You almost have to overshoot landscape to catch up so you bring in more than you need as a baseline but to recover from it and rebuild the program, get things fixed. Then, there’s enough turnover where it’ll find its right spot at some point.

Then, the building maintenance, which you really don’t recover from. That’s where you basically are borrowing from the future condition of the assets or the buildings. That leads to the deferred maintenance issues that we have today.

We’ve got some good information on that and the funding levels, what they should be, what is the commercial industry standard. Commercial industry standard is 3 percent of the asset value needs to go into it every year. We don’t get anywhere near that because this is $2.2 billion worth of assets. That’s not including the utility piece. That’s just the buildings proper. You know what kind of money 3 percent of $2 billion if you were …

Mann: That’s a year? That’s an annual …

Lombardo: Every year. Every year. You look at …

Mann: Has LSU ever had that kind of investment in maintenance?

Lombardo: Anecdotally, I’ve heard they had what they needed in the 60s. Then it started to drift, but I don’t have any real documentation of that.

Mann: Talk about your capacity for building maintenance 10 years ago versus what it is now.

Lombardo: I didn’t have the visibility over the big picture. Ten years ago, we were in the midst of getting some deferred maintenance dollars. There were two or three major rounds of deferred maintenance dollars. We were replacing a lot of equipment. Once you start that, it really gives you a jump-start because instead of sending the teams out to repair things and manufacture parts because that’s where we are. Some of this stuff is so old that no one makes parts for it any more.

Mann: Like what? Give me example.

Lombardo: An air handler for example.

Mann: An air handler?

Lombardo: Yeah. Air conditioner. We’ve got equipment that’s part of the original 1960s retrofit running.

Mann: If something fails there, you’ve got to make the part?

Lombardo: You’ve got to reverse engineer it and figure out how it works. Then you’ve got to manufacture parts for it.

Mann: You do that here?

Lombardo: Sometimes. Sometimes, it’s a little too complicated for the equipment we have.

Mann: You have to contract it out?

Lombardo: We have to contract it out and it’s terribly expensive, but that’s what has to happen because it’s still cheaper. You’ve overpaid for the part but it’s still cheaper than a $300,000 replacement [for the whole system].

That’s the balance. Okay, if we make this part, is this thing going to fail more catastrophically in six months? Do we just cut our losses now and throw money at it and replace it? It’s a one-off, decision-making process based on every single piece of equipment or asset based on who’s using it – what is the impact from a programmatic standpoint, who’s it reach out and touch, what’s going to happen if this is not running? Then, if we do fix it, will this happen again more substantially in the near term?

It’s quite a challenge for the team. They’re really doing a good job with it considering the fact that the fact that we’ve got equipment running from the 60s that supposedly has a 20- to 30-year life span. You can’t hardly get any better than that.

Mann: You’ve got to decide, when it comes to a building, how much do you invest in it. You got to balance that with the fact, the knowledge that there may be a new building. And, so, what is your calculation?

Lombardo: There may be a new building. This may go away. What’s inside the building? What’s at risk of being damaged? What programs have to relocate if something happens before we get another building? You look at that [Middleton Library] basement for example, the water intrusion. You know those covered walkways around the east, west and south? When you’re standing in those covered walkways, you’re standing over the basement level. That footprint extends all the way to that outer edge of the sidewalk, so the waterproofing there is critical.

I can’t remember if we’ve done one or two sides and it’s about $300,000. We’ve got at least that much more to spend just to stop the water from coming in. There’s no recovering from that otherwise. I can’t go in there and spend $20,000 and make the water stop. It takes the $300,000. Either you get the $300,000 or you suffer through it. That’s what we’re doing.

We started that waterproofing process when some of the trailing dollars from deferred maintenance were still available. We were hoping to get more the next year. It didn’t come so we didn’t get to finish that project. There’s so many like that that you do part of the project because that’s what you have the money for in hopes that it continues to come your way so that we can get the rest of it done.

Mann: You can conceivably spend … I don’t know if it’s all four sides [of the library], but you can conceivably spend upwards of $1 million basically patching a building that everybody says needs to be torn down in the next couple years.

Lombardo: That’s right. That’s before you even start to talk about the building systems inside. It’s got original HVAC mostly. It might be second-generation controls. Libraries are lot of wear and tear. Either big spaces with a lot of people moving and very little oversight, if you will there.

Mann: What do you mean?

Lombardo: Library staff, faculty staff per square feet.

Mann: People just keeping an eye on things?

Lombardo: Keeping an eye on it, make sure things aren’t getting torn up and things like that. It happens. We go through thermostats over there like crazy because if it’s not comfortable in the space, somebody will get frustrated and they’ll break it.

Mann: They’ll smash a cover or something or …

Lombardo: Smash the cover, break it. Yeah. Now we’ve got to go fix it and deal with whatever the minor control problem was that had them not comfortable that day. That’s somewhat counterproductive. Extremely counterproductive but that happens as well. I certainly understand the frustration.

Mann: The library’s an example of a building that’s used a lot, meets a lot of criteria that you were talking about. But does the knowledge that everybody says we need to tear it down and replace it and we’re trying to do that – how does that factor into your calculations, as opposed to some other building that maybe no one’s talking about?

Lombardo: It would probably factor in more if we had more money because there would be some real decisions of do you spend that $1 million. We don’t have the million. Right now with the current budget climate, it’s the smaller spaces that that critical decision-making becomes more apparent and important.

Mann: How do you mean?

Lombardo: If you have the same issue and $20,000 fixes it. Then you may consider doing it because I could probably find $20,000 based on what other priorities we have going. I’m not going to find $1 million.

Mann: When I hear these numbers about deferred maintenance, can anybody imagine a scenario that the state comes up with that money? Even in our flushest days, if you can imagine we doubled, tripled our tax revenue, it’s hard to imagine that the state will come up with the money to do all that, right?

Lombardo: The challenge is you don’t see the impact of those decisions immediately. It sneaks up on you. You say, “Okay, we’re going to take a budget cut and we’re taking it out of maintenance.” Then, you go walk the buildings a week later. “Well, this turned out to be a good decision. I see no evidence of it.”

Mann: The building is still standing?

Lombardo: It still looks great but it’s the five, 10 and 20 years down the road where you start to see the evidence. Then, it’s nearly impossible to recover from.

Mann: Is that fair to say that a disproportionate share of it was taken out of your budget during the budget cuts in recent years?

Lombardo: I don’t know that it’s disproportionate. It’s a matter of necessity because when you look at the university, that’s at least 80 percent payroll. On the academic side, there’s contracts. If you’re 80 percent payroll, you get to your cuts with people. That’s just the terrible reality of it. If you can’t get to the money immediately—

Mann: Because they got tenure or a contract.

Lombardo: That’s right. Then, it really doesn’t matter what the appropriate decision is. Just the nuts and bolts of it don’t work. You can’t get to the money and you got to show up with money for the cut. Here, it’s all staff. It’s a lot easier to get to the money. We tend to have some level of turnover that is appropriate for this industry, which is higher than the academic side of the house.

Mann: You just don’t replace them.

Lombardo: You don’t replace them. That’s not terribly strategic, because now you’re making cuts based on what happened to be the circumstance today instead of do we need this service or would we rather have that resource than this service. You don’t get to do that if you’re just taking out vacant positions. It becomes less strategic in that regard.

There’s a practical budget reality that injects itself into that that makes it hard not to do it the way we’ve had to do it. I think that’s everywhere. You see higher ed across the country when they’re in a budget climate that we’re in, that struggles in the same way. This data will pretty much support that.

Mann: What else do you want to show me that you think I need to know about your struggles?

Lombardo: It’s a lot of paperwork but it’s pretty easy to go through because it’s very high level stuff. I just stuck a couple of tabs on here. Let’s go back because that starts to go through the performance side of it and where we’re performing with what we have but if you look at the big picture stuff.


Okay, this is a campus age document. This shows you that 37 percent of the total space on this campus was built pre-war. Twenty percent was built in post-war, 27 percent in modern and then 16 percent is the current type stuff.

There’s some features to those eras. Pre-war, like we talked about, those building have great bones. We can always bring them back. It can get expensive. There’s abatement and all kinds of environmental things that need to be done when you start breaking apart construction on that era. You look at post-war, it was terrible quality. We’ve got a good bit of this that we struggle with. You look at the library. It was built right in the center of that era.

Then, a lot of our buildings that you drive through campus and scratch your head and say, “What were they thinking when they built that?” Most of those came in these eras.

Then, the new stuff, it’s built better but it’s very complex and expensive.

Mann: Because of the technology?

Lombardo: Technology, yeah. We’ve got laboratory space that is measuring CO2 to determine how many people are in the building so that they can set the heating and cooling and the fresh air because back in the day when you couldn’t measure all that.

Now, you measure it and you only put in what you need because fresh air is tremendously expensive because you’re taking it from whatever condition it is outside and changing it to whatever condition you need inside. That’s a lot more expensive than just buffering what was already inside. Just like your house, if you left all the windows open and the air conditioning running.

They’re very expensive to maintain, the systems are expensive. They require training that we can’t afford so we end up using more contractors that can get the training that they need to work on some of these systems. That gives you a layout of where we are.

Mann: What’s the impact of new construction on your maintenance budget?

Lombardo: Now, for me, I would rather see what we’re doing in Patrick Taylor [Hall] happen than a brand new building happen for obvious reasons. More square footage, a little more resources. Half of the value of that building is going to be things that fall right off of the deferred maintenance list and give us a jump-start forward.

Mann: That’s the argument for renovating the Huey P. Long Field House?

Lombardo: Absolutely. Absolutely. We are much better off just from the condition assessment of building renovating than we are building new. Everybody loves new stuff. That’s hard to get done but and really, sometimes you need a new building, you need more square footage for whatever the programmatic needs are, but we really need to be looking at that closely and answering the hard questions. “Okay, do we need more square footage to meet this vision so that we do it with existing space that is appropriately built?”

Mann: Irrespective of the fact that everybody seems to think that library’s in the wrong place and it needs to be somewhere else, the quad was defamed by putting the library there, but that would also be true of the library potentially? It would be better to—

Lombardo: Yeah, if a new building replaces an old building, that’s just as good as a gut renovation.

Mann: Knocking the library down and building a new one would be—

Lombardo: A good thing.

Mann: —a good thing in the way to deferred maintenance because it would eliminate the deferred maintenance on that old building. You’d have a new building. It’s essentially the same as the way as renovating that …

Lombardo: That’s right. It was one of those building built in that poor construction period. We can throw money at it and a lot of things you can’t change in that regard.

Mann: What about the library in particular would you say was poor construction when it comes to that building?

Lombardo: The way they laid out systems back then. There’s unserviceable elements. The heating system in that building is not terribly efficient for one thing because it’s technology of that day but secondly, it’s got hot water pipes running through all of the concrete floor decks for every floor. We’ve struggled with that for years.

Mann: You can’t get at them, huh?

Lombardo: You can’t get to them. They leak and it has to migrate through concrete. The path is not always intuitive. It starts leaking here on books and the actual plumbing leak can be 200 feet away. You just never know. It’s terribly difficult to find those problems and fix them. Why you put that kind of system in a place with items that abhor water, that’s a problem It’s not the most intelligent building in terms of how you would build a space for that function. Yeah, in my opinion, it would be a good building to replace.

Mann: Yeah, because it becomes impossible to or just prohibitive to deal with a problem like that?

Lombardo: That’s right.

Mann: Talk about how you manage your relatively limited budget?

Lombardo: When I got here, we started evaluating what was left in deferred maintenance pots because one of the strategies that had been used for years on deferred maintenance money is and it’s an understandable strategy to just leave the money sitting in the pot and wait for things to fail. Then, use it as your emergency fund.

It sounds ridiculous that you would just leave money sitting out there when we got so many problems but on the flip side, if you miss on that decision making process, if you say, “Well, this thing’s about to fail,” and then you sink $300,000 in it. Then, the one down the hall fails instead, you’ve already spent the $300,000. Now, you’re dwindling your pot. You’ve got to find other money. You’re scrambling to get this other one solved.

It makes sense but during the same climate, the state was looking at those pots and a lot of the other universities don’t have the professional and technical capacity of this campus to be able to manage and do these projects.

They weren’t spending the money fast enough so there was grumbling downtown that, “We’re going to start scooping that money and solving our other problems,” because many of the universities had a lot of that money left over.

Once they started talking about scooping, we started spending and made sure that we got every allocated dime that was coming to this campus. It’s a calculated risk of, “Okay, we’re going to spend all that’s left on building envelope so that we can seal up our buildings and weather the storm, if you will. Then, if we have failures on the inside with mechanical equipment, we’ll just have to scramble and find some institutional money to fix that but we won’t get a chance to do that if we let the building envelope go.”

Mann: We had to basically keep the water out.

Lombardo: Keep the water out best as you can. At the same time of this timeframe, the state roofing program caved in. They shut it down. They wouldn’t let us use deferred maintenance money on roofing prior to that.

Mann: What was the state roofing program?

Lombardo: It was a program where they would put dollars into this program. It was centrally managed by the state and they would evaluate everyone’s roof in the state. Of course, statewide, they were pretty bad. You’d sit on the list and you’d wait because they only had so many dollars. They’re looking at a spreadsheet. They don’t understand our priorities and our needs.

Mann: That was separate from your budget?

Lombardo: That was separate from the budget. Once in a while, they’d throw a few dollars at you and get some $100,000 roof fixed, but we had roofs all over the campus leaking. We couldn’t touch them because of the program. What ultimately happened was agencies across the state would sit on their hands and not do the regular preventative maintenance for roofing so that their roof would just fail, then they could make the emergency request and get somebody else’s money, from the state roofing program, to pay for their roof and it doesn’t come out of their operating. That basically just caved in the program.

Once we were freed up to assess and consider roofs as part of our decision-making criteria, we started going after them. We were spending all the trailing moneys. Some of those moneys were from bigger projects that came in $40,000 under budget and you do 20 of those.

Mann: Is that what you mean by trailing money?

Lombardo: That’s what the trailing money was, is the leftovers from other projects on this campus or some things were projects sitting out there. Then, it failed and we had to do something different. By the time the project money comes up, that jobs already done or some of those things were gathered up in classroom renovations where you redo a space with some of the other classroom moneys that we use. It could capture that same piece of deferred maintenance, clean that problem up. Then, that project goes away.

The challenge was that depending on what year the legislation was crafted for those deferred maintenance pots, some were flexible in that the definition was you must use it for deferred maintenance and it must just be deferred maintenance on the audit list. Some were line item by line item in the legislation.

Mann: Directing it to a particular—

Lombardo: To a particular project so if what I just described happened and we fixed it another way, then that money sitting there and it’s got no place to go because that was legislatively the only place that it could go. At some point, we had to work through state government to get those things. It was a process but it was certainly convoluted and bureaucratic to get those monies be placed into something else.

We did a lot of that. The roofs on campus have gotten significantly better. A lot of that clay tile is on it, up until very recently was on its first restoration.

Mann: How old were some of those, then?

Lombardo: Eighty, 90 years.

Mann: Is the tile you’re replacing it with better than the original, last longer?

Lombardo: It’s exactly the same tile. Tile doesn’t fail. In fact, when we do a roof project on a clay tile roof, they strip the clay off of the roof and stack it and categorize it and reuse somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of the tile on the new roof. What fails is the underlayment. The tiles don’t fail unless they’re broken by something physically, [like a] flying branch.

Mann: The philosophy is just keep the water out so that the building doesn’t deteriorate so that when we’ve got the money, the problems inside aren’t necessarily getting. They’re not getting worse. You can control it a lot better?

Lombardo: That’s right. Yeah. When they start leaking, you can have some of the same problems that a leaky roof gives you. On some of these systems, it’s the only fix for it at this point considering its original to the air conditioning project of the 60s is total replacement. You fight it until you have the money to do so.

Mann: How much of your problems, your struggles, are people and how much of it is just money to do the maintenance work that you want to do?

Lombardo: It’s money. The people problems are a result of not being able to make the best decision based on managing the checkbook.

Mann: Are the maintenance problems on campus more of a, “We don’t have the money to invest into fixing these buildings up,” or is it, “We don’t have the people that we need to do this other work?”

Lombardo: It’s a combination of both. You have to do your best to balance that because if you were to do a budget cut the painless way – which is just scrape all of your materials and services money together and hand it over – then, you’ve got all of these people and you can’t even put a hammer and a nail in their hand. That makes no sense. It’s terribly inefficient. You always have to find the balance of the material monies and the personnel.

Generally, you have to do that with the vacancies. It’s always difficult. Really, when you start to lose the people, you need more money because now you’re hiring contractors more. If you have less people and you’re not able to keep up the preventive maintenance schedules, then things start to fail. Therefore, you need more money. It’s terrific balancing act.

Mann: How much of this work that needs to be done around here can be done by your people.

Lombardo: Almost any of it can. Does it make sense? Not necessarily. When you’re just managing groups of people this large, you want to keep the institutional knowledge flat, the workflow flat, because we don’t get to expand and contract like commercial business does. If you see a financial opportunity to do a bunch of work, you can’t ramp up the people and then say, “Okay, we’re done with you now.” It makes a lot of sense to use contractors in that regard above a baseline that makes sense. That’s always different depending on what the current condition of the campus is, how many people you have, how much money you have, how many student are here. All of those things go into it.

Mann: Let’s talk about the maintenance needs on campus. In the best-case scenario, what should the campus be spending?

Lombardo: [Pointing to chart] There’s the 3 percent replacement value. That’s what you should be spending over and above just the scheduled maintenance cutting the grass, cleaning things, changing the air filters, this is actually fixing and replacing things. You should be spending this every year. If you were a commercial building downtown, they’d expect to get a decent rent, that’s what you’re spending or no one will occupy the space.


Mann: That’s a target amount. We should be spending $65 million a year on the LSU campus?

Lombardo: If we wanted to operate like a commercial building. Will that ever happen? No. No campus does that.

You look at Dalrymple building, for example, where you’ve got plaster falling off the wall. That’s a system that has failed. That would be lumped into this $65 million that we need today that we don’t have. There are places where air conditioning systems just don’t work. They’re turned off. We don’t use the space.

Then, you get into the performance side of this. Where are we performing based on these

budgets. You look at the custodial piece for instance. We’re at just under 40,000 gross square feet per person cleaning space – and that’s a day. Can you imagine going home and cleaning a 40,000 square foot house? Would you finish it today? These folks work hard.

Mann: Yeah. I know they do.

Lombardo: Now, we’ve got a pretty high intensity of subject matter expertise because of the trees. The arbor groups and all of that. There’s a lot of expertise in keeping that stuff up. It’s not as simple as just running out there with a lawn mower. That makes it a little bit more difficult for us but our scores are pretty decent. They’re not to the average. We know we have some challenges but that’s one of those areas that we have to cut first. If you start cutting the maintenance programs, that’s when the buildings cave in. They get away from you.

Mann: Right. The flower beds look bad. That’s not going to …

Lombardo: It’s terrible but—

Mann: You can recover from that.

Lombardo: It’s something that we can recover from.

Mann: Looking at this year’s budget, every year seems like it’s a potential for calamity but what worries you the most?

Lombardo: We were starting to creep back up and we’ll probably lose the ground that we made in the last couple of years financially. We were just starting to get some of the landscape back because it had gotten pretty bad. We were severely understaffed in landscape for a couple of years. That can be visibly seen on the campus. It was what we had to do because at the end of the day, you get to the point where I can’t lose one more electrician or plumber because they’re doing code inspections. We have to stay legal. It’s a shame that we aspire to the minimum standard of being legal instead of being great but that’s where the money is right now.

Mann: What about the roads. Is that in your purview as well? Streets?

Lombardo: It’s a little complicated. Most of the streets do belong to us. We work with parking and transportation and part of your parking hang tag dollar goes towards the road work that gets done.

Mann: Do you get any of that money or is that parking?

Lombardo: That money gets applied to the roads.

Mann: I’ve taken more of your time than you probably anticipated. I really appreciate you being so patient with some of my dumb questions but I …

Lombardo: Glad to do it. It’s an important issue. It has a lot of impact on the success of the campus and the mission as well as just a success of whether or not the buildings look good.

Mann: You got to take care of it. You got to preserve it. It’s a beautiful campus. They’re gorgeous buildings. There are a lot of campuses where the building aren’t that remarkable. We’ve got remarkable buildings.

Lombardo: We really do. We really do. I love this place.

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4 Responses to ‘Buildings with great bones’: An interview with the head of LSU Facility Services

  1. Jerry Zachary says:

    Thanks for the interview. It’s good to know that a professional is in charge. I wonder how long he can tolerate having his job.


  2. Fredster says:

    Fascinating article Bob. Please say thanks to Mr. Lombardo for sharing this information and his knowledge with us.


  3. Stephen Winham says:

    I agree that we are lucky to have Mr. Lombardo out there. The things he talks about are just plain common sense. We seem to have lost that. The statewide roofing program he talks about was one of many good ideas that failed to work. Why? Not because we didn’t need it, but because, like many other things that are intended to protect state assets, we refused to fund it properly. We really do some stupid things even when we ostensibly have good intentions, and we pay for it down the line. Unfortunately, we never seem to profit from these mistakes. It does sound like we definitely need to simply tear the library down and build a new one because as Mr. Lombardo indicates and, as your prior piece about it strongly supports, we are throwing money away on it.


  4. Stephen Winham says:


    And, you may rest assured maintenance is being severely curtailed at all our state institutions and not just in higher education.


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