Pittsburgh Center Back in Business After Floor Repaired, Safeguards Added

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Pittsburgh, PA – The David L. Lawrence Convention Center re-opened for business on schedule March 9 after structural safeguards and repairs were completed in and around  a section of floor that collapsed in dramatic fashion beneath a semi-truck on the second-story loading dock.

The facility marked the occasion with the opening day of the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show. There was also a luncheon held for about 200 hospitality industry workers who had put in some hard work and long hours after the schedules of 20 events were upended by the sudden closure of the convention center.

“A lot of people chipped in and it’s our way of showing our appreciation to the Pittsburgh hospitality community” said Mark Leahy, the SMG general manager of the center, who gave a great deal of credit to the  convention services managers and other “line staff” who worked on rescheduling or relocating the affected events.

The Feb. 5 mishap had in fact forced the Home & Garden Show to postpone its run by one week and delayed the February Pittsburgh International Auto Show until late April. No one was hurt, although a steel beam, broken concrete and a bright blue cherry-picker vehicle crashed about 30 feet to a sidewalk and fountain below. The back wheels of the truck were stuck in the hole for three days.

In the end, the repair work that began in late February was completed without incident and with no changes to the floor’s capacity of 350 pounds per square foot. The exact spot on the loading dock was to be back in operation in April after the newly poured concrete was allowed to cure and the non-skid coating was applied, Leahy said.

“There are some cosmetic things that still have to be done, but all the repairs have been made,” said Leahy.

A team of engineers traced the cause of the collapse to a support beam designed to expand and contract with the outside air temperature. The beam apparently failed when a wave of bitter February cold moved into the Steel City. The solution was the addition of a Teflon-coated iron “seat” to the  beam, which the engineers said would allow the beam to expand and contract more smoothly and act as a backup to the primary expansion joint.  In all, a total of 24 seats were installed on the building’s structure as an added safeguard.

Reach Mark Leahy at (412) 325-6150 or mleahy@pittsburghcc.com