Protecting the artifacts at George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Roof leaks threatened to damage artifacts and disturb a delicately controlled indoor environment at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Roof leaks can be a museum’s worst enemy, threatening water damage to artifacts and disturbing delicately controlled indoor environments. That’s why an $8.3 million renovation to the core exhibits at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in 2007 was done in parallel with fixing approximately 75,000-sf of the flat, spray-applied polyurethane foam (SPF) roof that had provided almost 10 years of service.
“We were redoing the core exhibit so I thought it was a good time to check the roof,” explains Robert Spacek, Facility Operations Specialist for the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
The original roof was a foam and silicone-coated system. Although SPF roofs can often last 20 years or more, and are renewable indefinitely with simple recoats every 10-15 years, this one was showing some wear and tear. As part of the renovation, there was talk of tearing off the existing roof and replacing it with another solution. This option, however, would be extremely expensive and time-consuming. Plus, the artifacts and records would have had to be moved and the building closed to the public during renovations.
“This particular roof was still in excellent shape and performing well. There was nothing wrong with the base foam roofing insulation,” explains John Austin, Vice President of Spray Polyurethane Foam and Coatings for F.W. Walton Inc., the contractor on the project. “But there were some leaks related to the rotunda and control joints in the windows, and membrane repairs were ineffective to prevent those roof leaks.”
Spacek made a request to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for funding for the roofing project. The NARA architects were subsequently asked to research the cost of replacing the entire roof. After consulting with BASF technical experts, it was discovered that only certain parts needed minor repairs, so a tear-off and replacement could be avoided.
Once the project was approved, the bid went to Houston-based F.W. Walton, Inc. Having found the root of the problem, Austin used ELASTOSPRAY SPF from BASF to perform minor repairs on various parts of the existing roof, followed by a recoat of the entire roof to provide a consistent and fresh aesthetic appeal. This renewal would continue to deliver on the energy savings inherent in SPF roofing systems, prolong the life expectancy of the original roof and provide a quick installation with minimal disruption. All at a far reduced cost compared with a tear off and replacement. Plus, it would divert a lot of waste from landfills.
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And thanks to the decision to repair and recoat the original roof, the work didn’t inconvenience the public or expose artifacts to the elements.
“We didn’t have to change anything,” says Spacek, who adds that it was his first big job with this type of roofing system. “Things went really well. The contractor was very easy to get along with. In all honesty, I didn’t understand a lot about this stuff until I started this job. I am very pleased with the results. It has been a very satisfactory experience for me.” +