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June 23, 2005

Leaks prompt roof replacement at The Pete

While the University is entangled in lawsuits alleging shoddy work at the three-year-old Petersen Events Center, a new $5.6 million roof project was approved by the Board of Trustees property and facilities committee yesterday, June 22. That committee has authority to approve construction projects in excess of $1 million.

Work on the roof is expected to begin early next week and conclude in November, contingent on the weather, according to Jerome Cochran, Pitt’s executive vice chancellor. He stressed that the work will not impact scheduled activities at The Pete.

The trustees unanimously approved the project, which entails the demolition and removal of the existing roofing system and installation of a new one. According to trustees, the project is required because the current roof system is failing, evidenced by significant damage caused by the roof connection clips that punctured over 200 holes in the panels, resulting in leaks. The project will be paid for by reserves in the University’s plant fund, according to Cochran.

Pitt and the state’s Department of General Services (DGS) sued the building’s architects and roofing contractors in separate lawsuits filed Dec. 30. The lawsuits included allegations of flawed designs that have caused heating and ventilation problems, unreasonable delays, poor craftsmanship, and damages due to improperly installed and defective roofing materials.

Cochran declined to discuss the lawsuits, but provided details on some roof problems noticed shortly after The Pete opened.

After attempts to repair the roof failed, the University commissioned a consultant who assessed the structural integrity and tightness of the events center. “The damage and the cause of the damage are beyond any form of reasonable repair,” Cochran said.

“The problem we ran into was not only do we have a roof that was designed improperly but one which was installed improperly,” he explained.

Also, the University discovered that a vapor barrier was never installed in the roof. “We have to remove all the installation in order to install a vapor barrier and ice shields and re-install new installation before we put the new roof on,” Cochran said.

Dressler Consulting Engineers of Kansas, will be on site to record details of the project and verify that construction specifications are followed, according to Cochran. A.C. Dellovade Inc. of Canonsburg is the contractor for the new roof project, as listed on a City of Pittsburgh building permit issued May 2, according to Dan Cipriani, master code professional for the city.

Pitt and DGS allege that the steel and aluminum roof work done by G&W Roofing and Construction of Eighty Four, Pa., Morin Corp. of Bristol, Ct., and Havens Steel Co. of Kansas City, Mo., is defective.

In addition, Pitt alleges that the architectural firm Apostolou Associates of Mt. Washington/Rosser International of Atlanta is in breach of contract due to “actions, errors and omissions during the design and construction” of The Pete, as well as “delays, disruptions, interferences and additional costs” caused by the architects.

—Mary Ann Thomas

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