Frank J. Lausche Building

The View: The Frank J. Lausche State Office Building

Upside Down and Inside Out

When it comes to unique architecture in Cleveland, you could say that the Frank J. Lausche State Office Building has the market cornered. This seven-sided building is one of the most unique on the Cleveland landscape, and sculptor Tony Smith’s masterpiece “Last” stands guard in front of the building. Knowing the unique design of the building, it only makes sense that the roof would require a very special roofing system upon replacement.

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The Job

Warren Roofing was hired to replace the roof, add plumbing drains, install tie-off anchors, and erect a buck hoist on the site of the building to help with the construction process on the roof.

The Challenge

Things Got Heavy

In addition to the challenge of putting on a unique inverted roof, this rooftop required 9,000 concrete pavers that weighed 80 pounds each to be placed on the rooftop. For those counting, that’s 720,000 pounds of concrete on the rooftop. Since a tow-motor can’t make its way to the rooftop, these pavers had to be moved with the help of some roofing carts. This was all done so that a swing stage the building owns for cleaning windows could be moved across the roof without causing damage.

The Team

Nate ArpProject Manager: Nate Arp

The Crew: At any given time, there were ten Warren Roofing crew members working on this project

The Status: This project started in June of 2018 and was completed in June of 2019

The Process

This project truly was a team effort. This building had a ten-foot-wide sidewalk that went all around the perimeter. In order to move the debris from the roof and get supplies to the top of the building, a buck hoist was erected to the side of the building, in essence becoming a construction elevator. Just getting a permit to close the sidewalk around the bottom of the building was a process and took months. Pioneer Glazing helped to remove five giant glass windows from the side of the building to assist with building the buck hoist, and Forest City Erectors took care of building the buck hoist itself. Cleveland Building Restoration was called in to cut and demo the sidewalk, and then the overburden, which is mainly gravel and sand, was removed using carts and dump bins via the buck hoist. 

With the sidewalk removed, it was time to get in and remove the old rooftop membrane. The giant roof also had four smaller courtyards that had membranes to be removed. A Smith Roofing Hoist was used to remove debris from the lower roofs, and the debris had to be brought back up to the highest roof and then lowered through the buck hoist. The new membrane was a torch-applied SOPREMA roofing system. For most roofing systems, the insulation goes on the bottom and then the waterproofing layer goes on top. With this inverted system, the waterproofing layer went down first and then it was covered with the insulation. This was done to protect the waterproofing membrane from the weight of the pavers. There were three total roofing layers applied to the roof and then Blue Board Insulation and ballast were laid down to make way for the weight of the pavers.

And then came the heavy lifting. The pavers were meticulously cut and sprayed with a high-powered hose to remove excess silica dust. The unfortunate part of this for the Warren Crew was that this cold water rinse was performed on-site and outside in the harsh elements of a Cleveland winter. The temperatures were so cold that, at times, the water hoses would freeze up and would have to be thawed in order to continue. The pavers were moved to the roof four to six at a time and had to be put into place by hand because there really isn’t a machine that can handle this task.

The Results

A unique job to say the least but a complete job nonetheless. The team from Warren Roofing gets to work on many unique rooftops around the city, but the inverted roof and the heavy pavers that lined the roof made this job particularly challenging. It was nothing the Warren team couldn’t handle. The cold conditions couldn’t stop us from getting those pavers in place. And, for the next 25 years, this rooftop has a warranty that it will be leak and damage-free. With proper maintenance, this building will be safe and sound for years to come!

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