Preserving ancient history

A Chicago institute that focuses on the Near East protects its collections

In addition to being known for the Bulls and Bears (who did quite well this year), deep-dish pizza, the Magnificent Mile and extreme weather, Chicago also is known for its world-renowned museums, such as the Field Museum of Natural History, Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. A museum that often is overlooked, despite its 60,000 visitors per year, is the Oriental Institute Museum, which is part of The University of Chicago.

Photos courtesy of CertainTeed Corp., Valley Forge, Pa.

The Oriental Institute is a museum and research organization that focuses on the ancient Near East. The institute's building was built in 1931 and houses galleries; artifact storage and museum archive sections; a conservation laboratory; archaeological study areas; space for seminars, docent events and public programs; and professors' offices. Since 1996, the building has been under construction for renovation and expansion projects, but it was occupied during the work. In 1999, the building's roof system began to leak into the museum's reading room and other areas. Upon inspection by NRCA member INSPEC Inc., Milwaukee, it was discovered that the problem wasn't the existing clay tile roof system. Instead, it was determined the 3 1/2-inch- (87.5-mm-) thick concrete deck, which was bowing, was the source of the leaks.

NRCA member Knickerbocker Roofing and Paving Co. Inc., Harvey, Ill., took on this high-profile project. The company's crew members removed the existing clay tile roof system and precast concrete roof deck panels that total 28,000 square feet (2520 m²). The company modified existing structural deck supports and installed a new 18-gauge steel roof deck, as well as a tile roof system. The Oriental Institute also features low-slope single-ply roof systems totaling 6,000 square feet (540 m²), which Knickerbocker Roofing and Paving removed and replaced.