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DALI MUSEUM PINPOINTS THOSE ENIGMATIC LEAKS

The Dali Museum has had four minor incidents of leaks during heavy thunderstorms since opening in January, all in the dramatic atrium structure called the Glass Enigma that begins at the top of the building and curls around its exterior.

The leaks have been found in the gift shop area and haven't affected any areas that contain art, which are windowless, according to Cindy Cockburn, museum spokeswoman.

David McMullen, a project manager with Novum Structures, the Wisconsin company that installed the Enigma, is the site supervisor for the repairs.

"It's the tiniest flaw, the size of a pinhead," he said. "The water from each one has maybe filled a teacup."

The cause is "a lapse in workmanship," he said, in applying the sealant between the glass triangles and the steel frames that connect them. He said no parts have to be replaced and replacing the sealant "takes about 10 minutes" though getting a worker up to the leak can take a lot longer.

The building has been lauded both for its design and its imperviousness to major storms. The areas holding art have 18-inch concrete walls with about 200 miles of reinforcing steel and have been tested to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. The glassed areas have been tested only to about a Category 3.

"There have been 29 pinhole leaks in all," said Yann Weymouth who designed the museum and is senior vice president in the Tampa office of HOK, an international architectural firm. "There are over 16,000 joints connecting the triangles where you could have a pinhole leak. Skylights and roofs often leak and the problem is that water can be dripping 20, even 100, feet from the leak itself. Here, we know exactly where it is. This is a good test."

"We're going to do a comprehensive check of that one area," McMullen said. "There's always some chance for a flaw, but this isn't a design flaw; it's human error. We have used this technology before and know it works. We have had some pretty bad storms here since the building opened, and the building is standing up to them. This is disappointing but readily repairable."

Weymouth said the structure is under warranty with Novum and the repairs won't cost the museum anything.

Lennie Bennett can be reached at lennie@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8293.

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