Big Top: Reroofing California's State Capitol
December 20, 2013
Every single step, it seems, presented a challenge when it came to reroofing the California State Capitol building in Sacramento — scheduling, security, and maybe the most maddening challenge of all, surprises. Throw in the chaos created by the building’s 3,000 occupants — including a state legislature and its committees in and out of meetings — as well as 750,000 visitors annually, and the entire process might even seem overwhelming.
For all its challenges and surprises, one main goal of the reroofing project on the California state capitol building focused on a problem every maintenance and engineering manager knows all too well — leaks.
"It was leaking profusely," says John Manning, the building's chief engineer, referring to the 98,000-square-foot surface that included several types of roofing systems and nearly 30 different sections — some sloped, others flat.
"There are actually two buildings that comprise the current state capitol," Manning says. "The first completed construction in 1869. Then in the late 1940s, a second building was built directly next to it, so it becomes one building. That finished construction in 1951."
"The roof had been on the capitol for more than 20 years, and there were leakage problems, and it was at the end of its life," says Marilyn Nelson, project manager with the state's department of general services. "When we replaced it, there were several roofing systems down below it, and we had some hazmat issues. We had to do all the demolition at night, and we reroofed it during the day. Because it is such a large roof, we had to do it in sections and phases."
The new roof is a PVC system with 10-foot-wide panels.
"We chose it because it was long-lasting and durable," Nelson says. "As you can imagine, you don't want to reroof this capitol very often. It also had a decent solar-reflective index. And it has fewer seams because of the 10-foot-wide panels."