Ready for Takeoff

New Roof for Air & Space Museum in Denver, Colorado

by Fiona Maguire-O’Shea, public relations, S-5! Attachment Solutions

Transferred from the United States Air Force to a group of volunteers in 1994, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located in Hangar #1 of the former Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado.  Today, the museum boasts more than 182,000 sq.ft. of hangar space full of iconic aircraft, space vehicles, artifacts, military uniforms, and much more.  Visitors can experience thrilling flight simulators, discover various educational programs, and participate in dozens of exciting museum-sponsored events.  Each year, the museum welcomes roughly 160,000 visitors from all 50 states and 34 countries around the world. 

         The existing 20-gauge corrugated metal roof on this large airplane hangar had reached its useful life and performed well since it was installed 70 years ago in 1938.  The roof was retrofitted with 92,400 sq.ft. of curved standing seam roofing using the New Tech Series SSQ II™ MultiPro Roof Panel Machine with 675 tooling.  It features ColorGard® by S-5!®, the ultimate snow guard solution for standing seam metal roofs.

         The challenge was to remove and replace this large radiused roof during the cold winter months, while keeping the museum open for its patrons.  Increasing the difficulty was the shape and height of the roof, since it was curved and more than 100’ off the ground with a circumference measurement from eave-to-eave over the top of the barrel at 308 linear feet.  Another challenge was to meet the standards of Denver’s Historical Landmark Preservation Commission to maintain the same historic look of the building with the new roof system.

         Project consultant, Alec Garbini, and AH Architecture, both located in Denver, were brought on board to oversee the project.  They were tasked with finding a roofing contractor that could help custom-design and construct a system, as well as handle the removal and replacement of the large radiused roof.  Colorado Custom Metal, Inc., Glenwood Springs, Colorado, was selected as the roofing contractor and proposed leaving the existing corrugated metal roof in place and retrofit a new lightweight roof system.  This approach would allow the museum to remain open while the new roof system was constructed.

         Mill-finished Galvalume® material was selected for the standing seam panels to preserve the look of the old hanger and meet the criteria of the historical society.  Colorado Custom Metal fabricated 25,000 linear feet of 6” high Zee (Z) Purlins from 16 Gauge GI steel in their metal shop.  Installers attached the Z Purlins through the existing corrugated deck and into the main frame of the building.  By securing the Z Purlins to the main frame, they transferred the load of the new roof system and raised the new fastening point 6” higher.  

         Next, they laid down 6” of new ridged insulation nested tightly between the newly secured Z Purlins and chose to use two layers of 3” foil-faced isocyanate insulation board, providing the building with an added R-value of 38.  Finally, installers enclosed the insulation and Z Purlins with a high-temperature ice and water shield membrane.  Colorado Custom Metal manufactured the 308’ long panels in four separate lengths with each panel 77’ long.  They designed a custom expansion joint end-lap-detail to attach the panels together, making them span the full length of the barrel.

         Winslow Crane Service, Denver, hoisted the panels and New Tech Machinery’s panel forming machine up to the roof level, suspending it a few inches off the roof deck where 92,400 sq.ft. of roofing panel was manufactured utilizing the 18” wide 1-3/4” snap seam profile.  The panels were curved around the radius of the barrel as each one was installed.  Fabral company supplied the 24” wide, 24-gauge, satin-finished Galvalume roofing coils to make the standing seam panels, as well as more than 300 flat sheets to custom fabricate the flashings, trims, and components for the project. 

         Once the new roof was installed, the project consultant observed heavy snow sliding off the new satin-finished metal roof panels in greater volume than the pre-existing corrugated roof panels.  He advised something would need to be done to control rooftop avalanche conditions.

         Colorado Custom Metal contacted S-5!, who designed and engineered the ColorGard snow retention system to mitigate the avalanche problems.  Manufactured from high-tensile, certified aluminum and extensively tested for load-to-failure results, ColorGard dramatically reduces the risks associated with rooftop avalanches and complements the look of the roof, with a clean appearance and perfect color and finish-matching, all designed to last the life of the roof.

         With the addition of an S-5! ColorGard snow retention system, the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum has a safe and dry space to house its iconic aircraft.

Please follow and like us: