Re-Roof of Busy Post Office Facility Becomes Award-Winning Project

Crews from Roofing Solutions replaced the 300,000-square-foot roof on the United States Post Office General Mail Facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photos: Sam Barnes

The United States Post Office General Mail Facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, manages mail for the entire Greater Baton Rouge area. When the roof on the 300,000-square-foot building was nearing the end of its useful life, it was clear the roof replacement project would pose some big challenges. It was a given that the new roof system must prove durable and reliable to protect the mail delivery system that businesses and individuals rely on every day. It was also critical that the re-roofing work would not interfere with mail processing at the facility, which operates around the clock.

Architect Crump Wilson and Wharry Engineering specified an asphalt roofing system for the project — a two-ply modified bitumen system manufactured by SOPREMA. All parties agreed that asphalt was the best roofing solution for the facility due to its longevity, durability, and long-term dependability.

Roofing Solutions, LLC, headquartered in Prairieville, Louisiana, was invited to bid on the project. “We were the successful low bidder,” says Tupac de la Cruz, the company’s founder and operations manager. “When we started working on the planning and phasing, we realized the job was going to be an undertaking because, number one, it was a big-size job, and number two, the facility works 24-7.”

Completing the project without interrupting operations would be the biggest challenge on the project. Crews could not interfere with traffic flow and mail deliveries, and would have to protect people and sensitive machinery inside.

“Before beginning the re-roof project, we were given a full tour of the facility,” de la Cruz says. “It was an eye-opening experience to see the equipment, systems, and personnel that manage the mail delivery process from start to finish. You had to coordinate with the facility manager, the transportation manager, and multiple stakeholders to make sure that you did not interrupt all of the conveyor lines sorting all of the mail coming in and out of that facility every day.”

Working in Sections

The deck was exposed to the interior, increasing the risk of dust falling onto the equipment, so Roofing Solutions crews installed a 6-mm protective film using a Spyder lift. “We installed special sheathing underneath the deck to protect the conveyor systems and all of the equipment,” noted de la Cruz. “We also had to protect the workers and make sure that there was no noise, no dust, or any disruptions from anything to do with the roof replacement.”

Sunbelt Vacuum Service was contracted to remove the rooftop gravel. Then the old built-up plies were then cut up and removed by hand. “We had a metal deck, and we couldn’t put any heavy equipment on it,” de la Cruz recalls.

Work proceeded in sections to ensure everything remained watertight. “You had to cover everything you’d demo the same day,” de la Cruz says. “In the summertime in Louisiana, it can rain almost every afternoon.”

The new roof system included two layers of mechanically attached polyiso insulation, which was topped with SOPRABOARD, an asphaltic cover board, which was adhered with COLPLY adhesive. The two ply system was comprised of a base play and a cap sheet Designers chose SOPREMA’s Solar Granule cap sheet membrane, which provides the benefit of high reflectivity. Torches were not allowed on the project, so the membrane was set in cold adhesive. “Because we could not use any torches, all of the laps for modified bitumen cap had to be sheet welded with a robot like you were doing single-ply,” notes de la Cruz.

The roof system specified for the project was a two-ply modified bitumen system topped with SOPREMA’s Solar Granule cap sheet membrane.

Most of the roof area was clear sailing, but access at the jobsite was limited due to the busy transportation routes. “It was a nice, wide roof,” says del la Cruz. “The hardest part was getting the material from one end of the roof to the other, because we only had access at one point. No motorized vehicles were allowed up there, but we were able to use carts to move material from one end to the other.”

The roof features four large raised sections framed with clerestory windows, and the multiple levels sometimes made moving material difficult. “In some cases, you had to bring the material across one level, bring it up to another level and back down again,” says de la Cruz.

The existing skylights were replaced with new single-slope skylights manufactured by KalWall.

Safety and Security

The safety plan utilized mix of guardrails, perimeter flagging, and safety monitors, depending on the configuration of each section. “We also had to have a flagging man on the bottom to make sure we were not interfering with the 18-wheelers coming in and out with their packages,” de la Cruz says. “The project extended over Thanksgiving and Christmas, and you couldn’t imagine the amount of trucking that goes through that facility during Christmas.”

Making sure everyone was on the same page was crucial. Weekly planning meetings were supplemented with daily huddles. “We met with the facility manager every morning to make sure we let him know where we’d be and what we were going to do that day,” de la Cruz explains, “Every afternoon, we’d let him know what the plan for the next day was so they could plan ahead. It was a very proactive approach.”

The crew, which included 20 men during the peak of the project, usually accomplished 3,000 to 3,500 square feet of demo and roof replacement per day. The project was completed in seven months — three months ahead of schedule.

The project was recognized by the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association as the Silver Award winner in the 2020 ARMA Excellence In Asphalt Roofing Awards program, which recognizes industry professionals for their high-performing steep-slope and low-slope asphalt roofing projects across North America.

“We had such pride in completing that project because it was so large and we had zero injuries, no issues, and the client was very happy. We decided to submit it, and we got the award,” says de la Cruz.

“We finished the project about three months ahead of schedule, and we were able to complete the job with no interruptions to the facility. We knew if we could do that, in the end it would be a successful project.”

For more information about submitting a project for the Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards, visit www.asphaltroofing.org.

TEAM

Architect: Crump Wilson, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, www.crumpwilsonarchitects.com

Roof Consultant: Wharry Engineering, Garland, Texas, www.wharry.com

Roofing Contractor: Roofing Solutions LLC, Prairieville, Louisiana, www.roofingsolutionsla.com

MATERIALS

Membrane: SG Solar Granule Cap Sheet, SOPREMA, www.soprema.us

Cover Board: SOPRABOARD, SOPREMA

Skylights: Kalwall, www.kalwall.com

Projects: Hospitality & Entertainment

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

The Lobby, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, Colo.

Team

Design Architect: Zehren & Associates, Avon, Colo.
Engineer: Monroe & Newell Engineers Inc., Denver
Owner: Vail Valley Foundation, Vail

Roof Materials

The Vail Valley Foundation envisioned an iconic entrance for the amphitheater that not only would accommodate guests, protect against the elements and provide facilities, but also would recognize and celebrate the Ford family and mirror the amphitheater’s atmosphere.

Under the Vail Valley Foundation, Zehren’s team of architects chose approximately 5,500 square feet of PTFE fiberglass membrane canopies to make the vision for The Lobby a reality. PTFE, or polytetrafluoroethylene, is a Teflon-coated woven fiberglass membrane that is durable and weather resistant. The PTFE fiber coating is chemically inert, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and immune to UV radiation.

Designer, fabricator and installer of PTFE fiberglass membrane: Birdair

Building Report

The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is a remarkable outdoor venue nestled along a hillside with a stunning view of the Rocky Mountains. The Lobby, which is adjacent to the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens and Ford Park, serves not only as an impressive entrance to the amphitheater, but also as a shelter from inclement weather, a social gathering point prior to entering the amphitheater, and a place for ticket and bag check. The Lobby allows for a smooth transition into the venue.

Within the Lobby resides a mini-stage that can accommodate pre-show performances, along with a new stand for concessions and restrooms. Around the perimeter of the space rests informal boulder seating, and alpine landscapes border the surrounding walls. Overall, the aesthetics of the space mirror the pristine landscape and enjoyable outdoor atmosphere.

The Lobby also holds a Ford family tribute: a series of symbolic sculptures and interpretive elements intended to pay homage to President and Mrs. Ford and their family. This tribute is a new landmark in Vail celebrating the family’s commitment to their adopted hometown and the positive changes that they made to the community.

PHOTO: BIRDAIR

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