Dome woes … again

Following the completion of the basketball season, workers took to the roof of the Sun Dome to make repairs to damaged segments.

Over the past several months, the need for repairs has become visually apparent on a roof that is less than two years old. The dome’s top has lost its original white color, with some segments turning brown and almost black.

Michael LaPan, president for Sun Dome, Inc., said the needed repairs are due to mildew that has formed on the roof.

“When they built the roof originally, (there were specific instructions) so that all the panels came from one source and would be mildew resistant,” LaPan said. “Some panels were used that were not from the same source.”

LaPan said the problem of mildew is due to the roof’s unique design. The skeleton of the roof is made from metal, and is covered with a fine fabric top. This top is divided into segments. The decaying segments have given the Sun Dome an almost checker board appearance.

LaPan said the problem with the use of segments from different sources was that some segments decayed faster than others, causing the strange appearance.

“When they installed the fabric they didn’t use fabric from the same line,” he said. “They had some fabric (pieces) which were not mildew resistant, so they had to go.”

LaPan said workers will replace badly decayed segments and color others. Once that is completed, he said workers will begin cleaning the entire roof. Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.

The current Sun Dome roof was installed in the summer of 2000 at an estimated cost of $7.5 million. It replaced an aging and leaking canvas roof that was about 20 years old.

Steve Gift, director for facilities planning, said the repairs fall under the new roof’s 20-year warranty and will come at no cost to the university. He said the fabric roofing came in rolls that looked similar to wrapping paper. It was one of these rolls, he said, that was defective.

“There was one defective roller tube out of the whole lot,” Gift said. “It was one defective batch. We didn’t know it was defective until it was discoloring.”

LaPan said despite the lack of costs, the need for work on what is still essentially a brand new roof is upsetting.

“(The use of different segments) was a ridiculous mistake,” he said.

Ray Gonzalez is the project coordinator at USF for the roofing repairs. He refused comment but said that the work is the responsibility of Sutter Roofing Co., whose employees originally constructed the roof.

Sutter Roofing Co. is based out of Sarasota. Scott Wilson serves as the company’s project coordinator on the Sun Dome repairs. Unlike LaPan, he said he isn’t sure why some pieces of the roof are discolored.

“We’re recovering the discolored areas,” Wilson said. “(The cause of discoloration) is undetermined.”

Wilson said his company is not responsible for the damage and is therefore not responsible for the repairs.

“(It’s not costing us) a dime,” he said. “The manufacturer is taking the responsibility for it.”

Wilson said the manufacturer of the roof is the international corporation Siemens. When the roof was originally built, much of the structure was assembled at an independent plant and shipped to USF. From there, Sutter Roofing Co. installed it and removed the existing roof.

Wilson said it will take time before the cause of the mildew is known, as well as whether the same problem will occur again.

“The manufacturer is working on that,” he said. “They’re testing (the removed segments).”

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