Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, November 20, 2017

Snow collapses canopy between Mary Graydon Center and Battelle-Tompkins

Snow collapses canopy between Mary Graydon Center and Battelle-Tompkins
UNDER PRESSURE — The recently-built canopy between Mary Graydon Center and the Battelle-Tompkins building collapsed Wednesday under the weight of last week’s two snowstorms. No injuries were reported.

Part of the canopy covering the bridge between Mary Graydon Center, Battelle-Tompkins and Butler Pavilion collapsed during Wednesday’s snowstorm.

The largest portion of the structure collapsed, which was closest to the main quad. What was left standing was closest to Butler Pavilion. No one was injured.

Student Union Board Director Clay Pencek, who was working the information desk in MGC and was near the canopy when it collapsed, said the structure came down around 11:40 a.m.

“I was minding my own business — it was a slow day, and all of a sudden there is this thunderous crash — it shook the whole Mary Graydon Center,” Pencek said. “I had a suspicion that it was a canopy that collapsed. I ran around the corner, checked it out and indeed it was.”

Few people were in MGC at the time, but Pencek described the mood amongst those who were as “shock.”

Pencek then made sure no one was underneath the debris, he said.

His co-worker contacted the Department of Public Safety, and officers were on the scene within minutes, Pencek said.

AU contacted the builder of the canopy, and the university is developing plans for a repair or replacement of the structure, University Architect Jerry Gager said in an e-mail Wednesday.

“We will be looking into the situation and reviewing the design and construction of the canopy,” Gager wrote.

A combination of the weight of the snow and high winds caused the canopy to collapse, said Jorge Abud, AU’s assistant vice president of facilities and administrative services.

SARAH PARNASS / THE EAGLE
Most structures on campus are designed to hold about 30 inches of snow on their roofs, Abud said.

The canopy “pretty much” collapsed within its structural limitations, Abud said.

“We’ll have to investigate more closely once we’ll be able to get access to it,” he said.

The canopy is about a year old, opening around this time last year, The Eagle previously reported.

Student Government President Andy MacCracken, whose office on the second floor of MGC overlooks the canopy, said the situation concerns him.

“It presents a danger,” he said. “They should take a look at any other places that might not be up to par.”

Replacement of the canopy will be covered by insurance, Abud said.

“Financially, this won’t be a particular issue to deal with,” he said.

The bridge will probably reopen within a week, he said. Shortly after the collapse, chain-link fences blocked access to both sides of the bridge.

“As soon as the weather breaks, we can start on that,” he said.

As for replacing the canopy, it will take a minimum of “several weeks” to reorder parts, Abud said.

AU will look at other designs for the replacement structure, he said.

MacCracken said the AU administration should use this as an opportunity to listen to student input as they design a replacement structure.

“I’ve always been a fan of student input,” he said.

Staff writer Nicole Glass contributed to this report.

You can reach this staff writer at eklapper@theeagleonline.com.


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