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 campus, its buildings are vital to programs that the administration puts in place. These buildings house testing laboratories and facilities that shape aerodynamic research and space exploration studies, providing key data for all sorts of development projects. To say that these buildings are a top priority is an understatement. Under the roof there is highly sensitive equipment and personnel, thus creating an even more stressful environment for the Warren Roofing team, 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 Warren Roofing had 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. Building 64 is positioned near high voltage obstructions and underground piping, so to gain access a large platform structure needed to be built. Some other areas required removal of debris via boom truck, a typical trash chute was out of the question. From the rooftop, it 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 masonry walls 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, and Sunbelt Rentals
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 the crane was needed to assist with the demolition process, there was no line of sight between the operator and material being demolished. Signalers were positioned above obstructions with a better vantage point to direct the crane operator. Expertise and trust came into play as the crew on the roof used walkie-talkies to guide the crane operator to success.

After the flashing membrane was removed, there was some obvious decay to the masonry along parapet walls, so Cleveland Building Restoration was called in to repair the masonry deficiencies, providing a solid substrate for Warren Roofing to wrap up.

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 waterproof membrane is adhered to a 1/2-in. thick gypsum board, called DEXcell® improving puncture resistance and wind uplift, beneath that is a layer 3-1/2” insulation, adding R-value to the roof system. This roof system provides superior protection from high winds and cold weather, something Cleveland is known for.

The membrane, coverboard, and insulation is adhered using 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 temporary roof membrane isn’t removed as part of this process. The temporary roof membrane was torch-fused directly to the concrete deck and will be left in place as a permanent vapor barrier. This vapor barrier prevents moisture drive from the inside of the building.

The Results:

The tops of both buildings are now restored and have pristine white roofs! 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, the roof 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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