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FPU’s Bubble in Rindge collapses during storm

  • Franklin Pierce University's recreational facility, known as The Bubble, collapsed early Saturday due to strong winds and heavy snow.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Franklin Pierce University's recreational facility, known as The Bubble, collapsed early Saturday due to strong winds and heavy snow.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Franklin Pierce University's recreational facility, known as The Bubble, collapsed early Saturday due to strong winds and heavy snow.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Franklin Pierce University's recreational facility, known as The Bubble, collapsed early Saturday due to strong winds and heavy snow.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Franklin Pierce University's recreational facility, known as The Bubble, collapsed early Saturday due to strong winds and heavy snow.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

RINDGE — Franklin Pierce University’s North Fields Activity Center, an air-inflated structure known as The Bubble, collapsed early Saturday morning due to strong winds and heavy snow, according to university officials.

“No one was in the facility at the time and no one was hurt,” wrote Lisa Murray, director of university relations and creative services, in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Monday. “The university is currently assessing damage to The Bubble and optimal steps to its repair.”

Saturday marked the second time in 12 years that the structure succumbed to heavy snow fall and deflated. The first time the Bubble collapsed was in 2001, when it took then-Franklin Pierce College roughly three months to repair the structure, Murray said. When asked how much repairs cost the college at that time, Murray said she did not know, and that the university would release additional information about the 2001 and 2013 incidents in the next few days.

The Bubble is an air-inflated structure that covers 72,000 square feet and reaches seven stories high, according to the university’s website. It consists of an airframe covered with architectural fabric and is held up by a constant air flow between an outer and inner layer of the material. The Bubble is home to cardio and workout equipment, a two-lane track, as well as multipurpose courts for tennis, basketball and volleyball. It is used by both university students and staff, as well as Rindge residents.

Rindge Police Officer Thomas Horne said by phone Saturday that the collapse of the Bubble did not require response from the town’s emergency personnel.

Franklin Pierce Athletic Director Bruce Kirsh and Director of Campus Recreation Doug Carty did not return multiple phone calls from the Ledger-Transcript by press time Monday. Carty also did not respond to email requests for information about The Bubble’s collapse.

University alumni reacted to the news on social media sites throughout the weekend. Some wrote on the university’s Facebook page that they remembered the first time the Bubble collapsed in 2001 when a Nor’easter hit the Monadnock region, and were saddened to learn the structure had deflated again.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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