April 2014

Making the grade

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R & S Construction Services Inc. installs a roof system on Yale University’s Lewis Walpole Library

by Krista Reisdorf

Photos are courtesy of Follansbee,® Follansbee, W. Va.

The new library building was designed to resemble a red barn.

Located in Farmington, Conn., the Lewis Walpole Library has been a department of the Yale University Library since 1980. It is an internationally recognized research collection—with more than 32,000 volumes—that covers all aspects of 18th century British culture.

Horace Walpole was the youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, England's first prime minister. During his lifetime (1717-1797), Walpole wrote many letters with details of his life. Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis, who graduated from Yale University in 1918, became fascinated by the view of the 18th century described in Walpole's correspondences. Lewis acquired as much information about Walpole as he could, including books, manuscripts, prints and arts. He spent almost 50 years—until his death in 1979—editing Walpole's correspondence.

Much of these collections now reside at the Lewis Walpole Library. However, though its history is still intact, the library began to show its age. Insufficient environmental control and susceptibility to fire and flooding put the library's collections at risk. In addition, lack of space became an issue and renovation became a necessity.

Centerbrook Architects and Planners LLC, Centerbrook, Conn., the project's architect, needed a design that would preserve the collection while also preserving the buildings' historic integrity. The library would gain space with a new 12,000 square-foot building. R & S Construction Services Inc., Middlebury, Conn., learned about the project through the general contractor, PAC Group LLC, Harwinton, Conn., and was chosen to install a roof system on the new building.


R & S Construction Services was asked to install an 8,000-square-foot terne-coated stainless-steel standing-seam roof system, as well as gutters, leaders and snow guards.

Photos are courtesy of Follansbee,® Follansbee, W. Va.

The new entrance to the library.

The roofing project began Feb. 20, 2007. The addition to the library was to be a red barn that complemented the library's white Georgian-style house while paying homage to Connecticut farm buildings.

R & S Construction Services installed a 26-gauge Follansbee TCS II roof system and used the material for the gutters and leaders, as well. Alpine SnowGuards™ stainless-steel system #4000 also was installed.

To ensure the project was safe, an All Reach 66-foot snorkel lift was used for proper staging.

Photos are courtesy of Follansbee,® Follansbee, W. Va.

The new library building was designed to resemble a red barn.

"With the lift, you don't have to work on a ladder and you have easy access to the roof," says Thomas Brunetti, project manager and estimator for R & S Construction Services.

In addition, all workers used harnesses and had completed an Occupational Safety and Health Administration's 10-hour class.

The project also was planned so the library's barn addition would meet the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design requirements. Features include recycling, reusing or reclaiming demolition debris; retention of stormwater runoff from roof and parking lots on-site, alleviating the burden on municipal stormwater systems; an energy-efficient geothermal heat pump system; and using as many materials as possible from local producers.

The prestige

The new addition to the Lewis Walpole Library has collections on two levels, one of which is below ground. It houses staff offices and workspaces, an area for conservation and has a 971-square-foot reading room for visiting scholars.

Photos are courtesy of Follansbee,® Follansbee, W. Va.

Follansbee TCS II roof material was used for the gutters.

Brunetti says the job went smoothly because of a good work environment.

"We had the right foremen and roof mechanics working on the project, and the general contractor and job conditions were great," he says.

And although the work was performed during a cold Connecticut winter, weather did not affect the outcome of the project.

"The job was right on target with the estimate," Brunetti says.

Working with a prestigious and well-known academic institution was an added benefit.

"The exposure we received by doing a project for Yale University was the most rewarding part of the job," Brunetti says.

Krista Reisdorf is Professional Roofing's director of online communications.

Project name: Yale University's Lewis Walpole Library
Project location: Farmington, Conn.
Project duration: May 2006-September 2007
Roof system type: Standing-seam metal
Roofing contractor: R & S Construction Services Inc., Middlebury, Conn.
Roofing manufacturer: Follansbee,® Follansbee, W. Va.


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