NASA Glenn Research Center Case Study

The View: NASA Glenn Research Center

Warren Roofing brings their out-of-this-world experience to NASA

Cleveland’s NASA Glenn Research Center is a massive building that is vital to the programs that the administration puts in place. The Center is home to testing laboratories and facilities that shape aerodynamic research and space exploration studies that give key data for all sorts of development projects. To say that these buildings are a top priority is an understatement. Because of the massive equipment and the types of work that goes on under the roof, these buildings are privy to stressful environments, and we all know what Cleveland weather brings to the outside of buildings. These rooftops truly need to be ready for anything, and that means that the Warren Roofing team needed to be ready to bring their out-of-this-world experience to the job site.

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The Job:

Warren Roofing was called out to address some needs on two of the buildings. The first building, Building 64, houses giant turbines that are used for aerodynamic research. This massive structure was in need of a full tear-off and replacement of the existing roofing membrane. Building 5 needed much of the same, but instead of protecting turbines and research equipment, the repairs on Building 5 would be performed to protect an iconic spacecraft: the Mars Rover. This job wasn’t just about fixing a roof, it was about protecting America’s legacy of space exploration!

The Challenge:

The biggest challenge with these immense buildings was the accessibility factor. Because Building 64 is positioned over much of the facility, it was hard to access and visibility is limited. You can’t see much of the ground from the rooftop, so demolition would be a “blind” process, relying on ingenuity to get the job done. There are also massive HVAC units all over the rooftops, so it’s not an easy surface to navigate. In addition, there was crumbling concrete on the rooftop that needed to be addressed before the membrane could be installed. For that, our friends at Cleveland Building Restoration would be called in to assist. 

The Teams:

Nate ArpBuilding 64 Project Manager: Nate Arp
Foreman: Shawn Cotter
The Crew: 7 Warren Roofing team members, plus crews from Cleveland Building Restoration, Precision Environmental Co., and Sunbelt Rentals
The Status: Work began in June 2019 and will continue through October 2019.

Building 5 Project Manager: Nate Arp
Foreman: Chris Frank
The Crew: 9 Warren Roofing Team members, plus a crew from Cleveland Building Restoration
The Status: Started in June 2019 and estimated to be wrapped up in November 2019

The Process:

The process started with the removal of the old roofing membrane and some rooftop demolition. For most large roofs like this, there would be multiple access points and the rig would be relatively simple. In this case, because of the shape of the layout, there was really only one access point to the top of Building 64, and it had an obstructed view to the ground below. A 50-foot scaffold tower was erected to get the crew and equipment to the top. When it came time for the crane work to be done to assist with demolition, there was no line of vision between the operator and the material being demolished and the people directing the action from above. Expertise and trust came into play as the crew on the roof used walkie-talkies to guide the crane operators to success.  

Once the previous membrane was removed, there was some obvious decay to the concrete on the roof, so Cleveland Building Restoration was called on to work on the masonry work so that the membrane could be installed properly.

The surface below the membrane is, in essence, a layer of concrete. A temporary membrane was used to protect that concrete against weather damage while the permanent membrane was being put in place.

Nate selected a fleece-backed PVC membrane from Johns Manville to complete the project. This is a waterproof membrane that has a 3.5-in. thick installation with a 1/2-in. thick gypsum board backing called DEXcell® that acts as a cover board. This board’s high density improves uplift pressures from high winds to reduce the likelihood that Cleveland’s notorious winter winds would damage the membrane.

The temporary membrane isn’t removed as part of this process. The permanent membrane was torch fused with a hot roll of asphalt that was 3 ft. wide and 30 ft. long, using the temporary membrane to increase waterproofing on the concrete surface. The process was sealed with a two-part polyurethane adhesive. The seams of the permanent membrane were then heat welded with a LEISTER heat gun to complete the sealing and further protect against water damage.

The Results:

The tops of both buildings are now restored and a pristine white! This helps the buildings look brand new again, and that increases their visibility from the nearby freeway. Most importantly, when work is all wrapped up, they will stand protecting the valuable equipment housed within. No matter what conditions the Cleveland weather brings, be it scorching heat and humid sunny days or below-freezing arctic blasts in the winter, these rooftops are ready to stand tall! So, when your commercial rooftop needs to be repaired, contact the best commercial roofers in the Cleveland galaxy – Warren Roofing.

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