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Credit: Ana Glassman

Students and staff inside Holman Biotech Commons on Monday afternoon were evacuated due to a steam leak in the building.

At approximately 4 p.m., a fire alarm sounded in Biotech Commons. People inside the building were evacuated outside, where two large pillars of rushing steam were visible coming out of windows, with one pillar on each side of the Robert Wood Johnson Pavilion entrance. The steam appeared to be mostly coming out of the basement area. Students told The Daily Pennsylvanian that they smelled an unusual odor emitting from the steam. 

“There is a steam leak, which has caused the detectors to sound,” the Division of Public Safety wrote to the DP. “The building has been evacuated for safety. FRES, DPS and other first responders are responding to address the situation.”

Exams scheduled to take place in Biotech Commons on Monday evening were canceled. College junior Ben Marks said that he was taking an exam when the alarm first went off.

“Nobody really made a move at first, and then some of the proctors came into the room and said we had to leave immediately,” Marks said. “One proctor said it might have been a drill, so everyone moved out casually.”

About an hour after the alarm went off, Penn maintenance and security staff took people in groups of ten to retrieve their items from inside the building and leave. Students who were taking exams when the alarm went off or later during the day had their exams canceled. 

“I was downstairs studying and then the alarm goes off,” Wharton senior Ross Krakower said. “I just assumed it was a drill. Someone came downstairs and said [I] had to leave.”

Earlier on Monday, the DP reported a water break on Spruce Street earlier today, resulting in the temporary closure of Houston Market. Houston Market has since reopened.

Biotech Commons is located at 3610 Hamilton Walk and recently completed a $11.5 million renovation in fall 2021. Last November, it was renamed Holman Biotech Commons after a $5 million gift from a Wharton alumna.