Opened in June, the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., endeavors to forever change the way cancer is diagnosed and treated. Through the use of genomics and other diagnostic tools, the center employs "precision medicine to customize therapies and care for each cancer patient."
Notable research programs include the center's work on lymphoma, bone marrow transplantation, and pancreatic and breast cancer. Through affiliations with community cancer program centers, the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center offers opportunities for clinical and translational research and provides patients in rural communities with access to the center's clinical trials, which recently were expanded to include hospitals in South Dakota.
Following a generous gift from donor Pamela Buffett, construction of the new $323 million cancer center on the university's main campus began in April 2013. The complex includes a 10-story glass research tower, eight-story inpatient cancer hospital, multidisciplinary outpatient clinic, infusion center, radiation treatment facility, healing garden and an amoeba-shaped roof sanctuary.
Selected by the project's general contractor, Kiewit Building Group Inc., Omaha, Scott Enterprises Inc., Omaha, was tasked with the installation of six roof systems on 14 roof areas covering 110,000 square feet plus a 3,500-square-foot skywalk.
Scope of work
Scott Enterprises began its work on the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in July 2015. The scope of work included installation of multiple roof systems:
Roof system one
On a majority of the roof areas' concrete decks, Scott Enterprises workers applied Carlisle self-adhering VapAir Seal™ 725TR Air and Vapor Barrier/Temporary Roof followed by two layers of adhered 2-inch-thick polyisocyanurate insulation, fully tapered 1/4 inch per foot polyisocyanurate roof insulation, 5/8-inch-thick USG Securock® boards and adhered Carlisle Sure-White® EPDM membrane.
Roof system two
An amoeba-shaped roof on level four protects the center's meditative Chihuly Sanctuary that features works of art by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly that can be viewed from inside or outside the building's glass walls.
For this unique roof area, the Scott Enterprises crew fastened 5/8-inch-thick DensDeck® Prime Roof Boards to the metal deck followed by Carlisle's self-adhering VapAir Seal 725TR Air and Vapor Barrier/Temporary Roof, three layers of 2-inch-thick polyisocyanurate insulation, fully tapered 1/4 inch per foot polyisocyanurate roof insulation, 5/8-inch-thick USG Securock boards, adhered Carlisle Sure-White EPDM membrane, a Carlisle Sure-Seal® HP Protective Mat and two types (Cherokee River Rock and Mexican Beach Pebble) of ballast.
Roof system three
On level five of the Chihuly Sanctuary, workers fastened 5/8-inch-thick DensDeck Prime Roof Boards to the metal deck followed by Carlisle self-adhering VapAir Seal 725TR Air and Vapor Barrier/Temporary Roof, one layer of mechanically attached 2-inch-thick polyisocyanurate insulation, two layers of fully adhered 2-inch-thick polyisocyanurate insulation, fully tapered 1/4 inch per foot polyisocyanurate insulation, 5/8-inch-thick USG Securock boards and adhered Carlisle Sure-White EPDM membrane.
Roof system four
For the research wing, workers applied tapered polyisocyanurate insulation to the low-slope plywood deck followed by mechanically attached 5/8-inch-thick USG Securock boards and fully adhered Carlisle Sure-White EPDM membrane.
Roof system five
To create the healing garden on level two, workers applied Carlisle's self-adhering VapAir Seal 725TR Air and Vapor Barrier/Temporary Roof to the concrete deck followed by two layers of fully adhered 2-inch-thick polyisocyanurate insulation, fully tapered 1/4 inch per foot expanded polystyrene roof insulation, 5/8-inch-thick USG Securock boards, fully adhered Carlisle Sure-White EPDM membrane, a Carlisle Root Barrier with MiraDRAIN® G4 Drainage Composite and engineered growth media with depths of 6 to 36 inches. A variety of small plants, large shrubs and small trees then were planted.
Roof system six
For the skywalk, workers mechanically fastened 5/8-inch-thick DensDeck Prime Roof Boards to the metal deck followed by Carlisle's self-adhering VapAir Seal 725TR Air and Vapor Barrier/Temporary Roof, two layers of 2-inch-thick fully adhered polyisocyanurate insulation, fully tapered 1/4 inch per foot polyisocyanurate roof insulation, 5/8-inch-thick USG Securock boards and fully adhered Carlisle Sure-Flex™ PVC membrane in white with Sure-Flex PVC Contour Rib Profiles.
Limited to no material staging on-site, materials were stored in Scott Enterprises' off-site 35,000-square-foot warehouse until needed and then immediately hoisted to specific roof areas via cranes.
Working on multiple-story buildings with many roof areas also posed challenging access issues. Some areas were accessible by walkout doors or roof hatches while other areas required multiple ladders or a hoist.
In addition, fast-changing weather patterns required the team to constantly be on alert for incoming inclement weather.
"We did a good portion of work during the winter months when Nebraska weather can drastically change within an hour, so we had to prepare for the worst weather at all times," says Cody Seaton, safety director and process improvement manager for Scott Enterprises. "We used heated boxes, heated material staging areas and even roof dryers to speed up the drying process so we could get to installing the roofing materials earlier in the mornings or after a small amount of rain or morning dew."
Working on a complicated, high-profile project also presented unique safety challenges.
"Fortunately, we had the opportunity to work with a well-renowned general contracting company that emphasizes safety and aligns with our own safety culture," Seaton says. "Using guardrail systems definitely was the best option because this was a long-duration project, and guardrails allowed us to work up to a roof area's edge and provide the safest option for our workers."
On the skywalk, horizontal lifeline systems spanning the full 260-foot-long skywalk were used, allowing workers to be tied-off 100 percent of the time while having the mobility to walk the entire skywalk.
"The skywalk was about three stories tall, which meant we had to complete our roofing work over a busy street leading into the main university campus," Seaton explains. "During this stage of work, we coordinated with Kiewit Building Group regarding which sections we could work on each day, and they helped mitigate traffic by closing one direction at a time as our work progressed."
Working on the amoeba-shaped roof also presented its own safety challenges.
"When we came across the Chihuly Sanctuary, we knew we were in for some challenges," Seaton says. "This roof area is shaped and designed in such a way it limited the use of guardrail systems, so we ended up using a combination of horizontal lifelines, anchor points, body harnesses and self-retracting lifelines that helped limit our freefall distances and swing falls, which we had to monitor constantly because the roof's shape changed drastically in each section."
A flagship facility
In April 2017, Scott Enterprises completed its work on the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. During the nearly two-year project, the crew worked through inclement weather and overcame challenging material staging conditions and unique safety concerns to successfully install four types of roof systems encompassing EPDM, PVC, an amoeba-shaped ballasted roof, a skywalk and a vegetative roof sanctuary.
In May, the Omaha community celebrated the opening of its Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"Seeing the completed project and knowing our company contributed to its success was extremely rewarding," Seaton says. "We are honored to have had the opportunity to work on a flagship facility that will revolutionize the cancer care and research industry."
Chrystine Elle Hanus is Professional Roofing's associate editor and NRCA's director of communications.
Project name: Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center
Project location: Omaha, Neb.
Project duration: July 2015-April 2017
Roof system types: Ballast; EPDM; PVC; vegetative
Roofing contractor: Scott Enterprises Inc., Omaha, Neb.
Roofing manufacturers: Carlisle Construction Materials, Carlisle, Pa.; Georgia-Pacific Gypsum, Atlanta; USG Corp., Chicago
Vegetation supplier: Lanoha Nurseries Inc., Omaha, Neb.