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Connecticut Science Center's Roof Reinstalled

By JEFFREY B. COHEN | Courant Staff Writer

May 24, 2008

The tricky, iconic, once-sagging roof is again atop the Connecticut Science Center, and this time, officials say, they mean it.

"The cantilevered roof is now in place, and it's going to stay there for a good long time," said Matt Fleury, the center's executive vice president.

Last fall, months after the building's steel work was completed, structural designers discovered that both the east and west overhangs of the building's roof were in need of more support. So in December, workers began taking the roof down.

On Friday, just after 6 a.m., a crane lifted the last significant piece back in place on the side of the roof that reaches toward I-91 and the Connecticut River.

"That has been done successfully," Fleury said, after the 40-foot span was reattached to the 50-foot span that was lifted back a few weeks ago.

Otherwise, exterior walls and glass are being put in place and other construction continues on pace for a March 2009 opening months later than originally expected.

Fleury could not say how much the roof repairs, and the huge crane on-site for months, have cost. He did say, however, that the money will not, in the end, come out of the state's pockets. The bill will be borne by the job's contractors, he said.

It's still unclear who is to blame. The architects, their engineers and the construction manager blame the steelmakers and erectors, and vice versa.

Regardless, all agreed that a fix was needed. So in late November, workers began lowering pieces of the eastern overhang. Earlier this year, designers decided that the eastern overhang would need more internal support. To do that, the designers decided to make and install a system of rods that will attach to the roof on one side and a steel column on the other similar to a cable-stayed bridge. The rods eventually encased in the roof structure itself will support the cantilevered roof, but will not be visible.

Next, an independent party will assess the roof, the problem, and the repairs and work toward a proposed settlement, he said. Should that process fail, there is always the possibility of litigation.

The $150 million project received $107 million from the state. The rest came from the federal government and private donors.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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