Polymer Shake Shingles Cover Steeple in Centennial, Colorado
by Marcus Dodson, editor
From Architectural West Nov/Dec ’15
Designed in the late 1970s by prominent Colorado architect Cabell “Cab” Childress, the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Centennial, Colorado, is known for its landmark steeple. Soaring 86′ into the air, the steeple for the church is just one of many impressive features of the sprawling complex. As a visionary for organic design, Childress, who served as the University of Denver architect from 1994 to 1999, tried to create specific impressions with his style. For the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church he delved into a non-traditional church style by matching a soft wrap-around design of cedar shake siding with a steeple rising to compete with towering mountains in the area. Built in stages starting in 1980, the contemporary-style church has an interior design like the center of a rose. A stained glass rose window and a roof system that dips down along the sides of the building create a wrap-around effect for the church sanctuary.
Real cedar shake shingles were originally installed on the roof, steeple, and sides of the church structure. These were replaced in 1990 after receiving major hailstorm damage. Following an extensive product search that, according to Jim Wolfe, a 30-year member of the church, included “looking at every type of roof material possible,” Bellaforté Shake and DaVinci Roofscapes® Multi-Width Shake were added to create a unified look on the exterior. An autumn blend of brown tones was selected to complement the church’s design and setting.
“We learned our lesson and were not about to put real cedar shakes on our structure again,” says Wolfe. “We didn’t want to go back to wood shake because of the cost, limited life, potential hail damage, and increased cost of insurance. After an exhaustive search, our committee of nine people now understands every potential roofing product on the market.”
Polymer shake products were selected due to their aesthetics and resistance to impact and hail. Because the previous roofs were destroyed in hailstorms, the committee placed special emphasis on finding a top-quality roofing product that would have a 50-year limited warranty. “We don’t want to deal with weather-related issues again in our lifetimes,” continued Wolfe.
The polymer shake products selected by the committee have a Class 4 impact-resistance rating (UL 2218) and a Class A fire rating (ASTM E 108). The roofing tiles also have a 110 mph wind resistance (ASTM D 3161), making them some of the most durable synthetic roofing materials in the industry. According to Wolfe, “The polymer shake came the closest to the appearance we wanted for the siding and also gave us the longer life,” says Wolfe.
During the roofing search process, the church committee met with Francis Ruesta, a sales consultant and estimator for Horn Brothers Roofing out of Denver, Colorado. Having completed two dozen DaVinci composite roofing installations in the last year, the roofing contractor was quick to recommend the company’s product as a solution for the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. “We install so many DaVinci roofs because the product is so impressive,” says Ruesta. “With this project it made sense for the Bellaforté Shake to be used on the roof and for the Multi-Width polymer shake to be used on the steeple and for the siding. The logistics of working safely on that high steeple were amazing. We hired a 110′ lift to make that part of the project go smoothly. We also needed to work around several pieces of stained glass, custom skylights, and old copper fittings. Now that it’s done, the church complex looks just remarkable. We could not have achieved that look with any other roofing/siding product on the market.”
From the church’s perspective, the finished project is a stunning success. With snow fences and snow guards added above all key pedestrian walkways and landscaping, the church is ready for its first round of winter weather.
“To complement the look of the roof, we recommended ST11 aluminum snow guards with dark bronze coating,” says Lars Walberg, president of Rocky Mountain Snow Guards. “The snow guards help slow the movement of melting snow and generally hold the snow in place. The purpose of snow guards is to reduce or eliminate the potential for catastrophic releases of snow and ice that could damage property and cause injury. The Drift II snow fence was also installed at the eaves over pedestrian areas. These have a powder-coated dark bronze to match the existing copper flashings on the church roof.”
Walberg points out that snow fences are generally used above vehicular or pedestrian areas where even small releases of snow and ice could be problematic. Using the snow guards and snow fences together in key locations on the church roof helps prevent even a small amount of slushy snow dropping onto congregation members as they arrive for, or leave, a service.
“We got the sense right from the start that the goal from everyone at DaVinci, Horn Brothers, and Rocky Mountain Snow Guards was that they planned to do this project right,” says Wolfe. “This polymer roofing product looks very close to the original wood shake we had, which was a major goal of ours. However, we know this composite roof is going to perform better than real cedar shakes. It’s especially fun to watch the reaction of our church members as they see the roof. It’s so realistic looking that half of them believe we used true cedar shakes. Because we invested the time to research all the roofing options available, we’re convinced we selected the very best product for our church. Now we’re set for future generations.”