Roofing with ingenuity

Alumni Roofing helps redesign the Avita Health System tower

  • The vacant tower before renovationPhoto courtesy of Alumni Roofing Co., Lexington, Ohio.
  • The Avita Health System tower after Alumni Roofing's renovationPhoto courtesy of Alumni Roofing Co., Lexington, Ohio.
  • Workers apply the TPO membranePhoto courtesy of Alumni Roofing Co., Lexington, Ohio.
  • Each installer used two ropes—one for the front lanyard harness and another rope to hold onto—while working from planks .Photo courtesy of Alumni Roofing Co., Lexington, Ohio.

In 2011, Ohio's Bucyrus Community Hospital and Galion Community Hospital merged to create the Avita Health System. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing extraordinary patient experiences and gives back to the community by providing care to patients needing financial assistance. The health system employs about 1,400 doctors, nurses and technicians who provide patient care in Ohio's Crawford, Marion and Richland counties.

In 2013, Avita Health System purchased a vacant, three-story, 185,000-square-foot building at Richmond Mall in Mansfield, Ohio, to be renovated into a medical facility to add to its 21 locations. Although selecting a building next to a mall may seem unorthodox for a hospital location, it specifically was chosen for its ease of location for patients, ample parking and having a solid structural foundation on which to remodel. The $50 million renovation would encompass several phases beginning in 2014.

During the project's first phase, Avita Health System required a plan for the building's tower that provided a screen wall to an archaic HVAC unit no longer needed. Built in 1972, the tower served as a local landmark for decades, so it was important for Avita Health System to maintain the building's focal point.

Unable to decide what to do with the space, the mall's management team referred Avita Health System to Alumni Roofing Co., Lexington, Ohio.

Design conception

Avita Health System evaluated several options for the tower, including tearing it down, reroofing it with asphalt shingles, or using it as a billboard and grand entrance to the new medical facility.

Alumni Roofing provided Avita Health System with several design options using TPO membrane with the hospital's logo and name on four of the structure's eight sides.

"We did not want to use coatings or paint because access to the tower was difficult," says Todd Lindeman, vice president of operations for Alumni Roofing. "We also needed something that would last as long as the roof membrane."

Alumni Roofing prepared several pictures using Photoshop software to demonstrate how the structure would look with a TPO membrane instead of shingles, including several examples of the Avita logo on the TPO membrane.

The Alumni Roofing team then created a temporary vinyl sign with the logo and hung it on the tower to demonstrate the logo's size and placement on the tower. Thrilled with Alumni Roofing's concept, Avita Health System chose to keep the tower and reroof it per Alumni Roofing's recommendation.

Constructing the design

After Alumni Roofing received Avita Health System's approval, it focused on how to install the new roof system. Working on the structure 100 feet in the air during high winds posed a significant safety challenge.

"Scaffolding the entire structure was too expensive," Lindeman says. "We held several brainstorming sessions with our installers to talk about how to hang the roof."

One rejected idea involved building an identical structure on the ground, installing the roof on the new structure and then placing it over the top of the old structure. Working out of crane baskets was not practical because of the structure's height.

"We decided on using adjustable roof brackets with 2- by 6-foot planks," Lindeman says. "Each installer had two ropes—one for the front lanyard harness and another rope to hold onto."

Alumni Roofing workers also installed a guardrail as a second layer of protection and to prevent tools and debris from falling to the ground. After appropriate safety measures were in place, Alumni Roofing began its work on the new roof system.

Workers removed the asphalt shingles, installed temporary underlayment and replaced rotted plywood decking. Next, starting from the top of the tower, workers installed Titanium® UDL25 underlayment followed by 1/2-inch-thick EnergyGuard® HD Polyiso Cover Board. Because traditional insulation plates would be telegraphed through the membrane, workers installed the polyisocyanurate using low-profile screws and plates.

Then, workers affixed an EverGuard® Freedom™ TPO Membrane with RapidSeam™ (self-adhering technology) in 5-foot sheets on the tower's sides that would not have an Avita logo. Next, workers cut the Avita logo from colored TPO membranes using a stencil and then welded the logo onto the TPO sheets using a flat surface.

The TPO membrane with the logo then was adhered to the tower's remaining four sides. Workers meticulously removed the release paper from the TPO to prevent wrinkles in the membrane that would be visible from the ground.

After the roof system installation was complete, Avita Health System installed multicolored LED lights around the tower's base that reflect off the white membrane. At nighttime, the tower is visible from nearly 1 mile away. On special occasions, the tower can be seen reflecting red, white and blue colors for patriotic holidays or pink for breast cancer awareness.

A preserved landmark

In December 2014, Alumni Roofing successfully completed its work on the Avita Health System tower. The unique project required a creative and forward-thinking concept that incorporated using a low-slope roofing product on a steep-slope structure to repurpose a 42-year-old landmark.

"The most rewarding part of the job is knowing we played a key role in preserving a community landmark," Lindeman says. "And we helped our customer develop a unique focal point to its new hospital."

For demonstrating ingenuity on the Avita Health System tower, Alumni Roofing received a 2016 Gold Circle Awards honorable mention in the Innovative Solutions: Reroofing category.

Chrystine Elle Hanus is Professional Roofing's associate editor and NRCA's director of communications.

Project name: Avita Health System Tower
Project location: Mansfield, Ohio
Project duration: June 2014-December 2014
Roof system type: TPO
Roofing contractor: Alumni Roofing Co., Lexington, Ohio
Roofing manufacturers: GAF, Parsippany, N.J.; InterWrap, Vancouver, British Columbia
Gold Circle Award: Innovative Solutions: Reroofing


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