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updated: 2/15/2011 9:27 AM

Structural engineers to examine Aquascape roof collapse

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  • The "green" roof on the Aquascape building in St. Charles collapsed late Sunday afternoon.

      The "green" roof on the Aquascape building in St. Charles collapsed late Sunday afternoon.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer


The Aquascape Corporation building, regarded as the poster child for "green" roofs in the Fox Valley, won't reopen for business until the original designers can determine what caused a collapse of the roof covering the parking garage, officials said Monday afternoon.

Speculation as to the cause places the blame more on the white material on the roof, snow, than the green.

A 500-foot by 60-foot section of the roof on the Aquascape building collapsed Sunday afternoon. The 256,000-square-foot building, at 901 Aqualand Way on the far southeast side of the city, carries a gradual slope from the north end of the building, at its high point, to the south end, the lowest point. The low point of the building is a covered, open-air parking structure that shares the same roof as the rest of the building. The "green" roof is covered with various forms of vegetation to absorb rainwater and provide natural insulation.

St. Charles Building and Code Enforcement Commissioner Bob Vann said the building is so uniquely designed only the original structural engineers have the knowledge to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Until then, no one will be allowed in the building except to possibly remove some computers and other necessary work materials.

Representatives of Aquascape could not be reached for comment.

Fire Chief Pat Mullen said he's no engineer, but said it makes sense that the weak spot on a sloping roof would be the low point.

"I think one of the things you have to look at was what was going on over the weekend," Mullen said. "You had this heavy snow that was melting. What collapsed? It was the low point. If the water couldn't run off the roof because of some ice damming, you're going to have this huge collection of weight in one place. It may be that those beams underneath it weren't designed to carry that weight."