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Special Recognition: Kingswood School Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

September 01, 2009 |
Aerial photo depicts the historic copper roof after restoration. The project involved adding a custom-built eave with built-in gutters to promote drainage.

Kingswood School is perhaps the best example of Eliel Saarinen's work in North America. Designed in 1930 by the Finnish-born architect, the building was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style, with wide overhanging hipped roofs, long horizontal bands of windows, decorative leaded glass doors, and asymmetrical massing of elements.

The building's elegant copper roof served the school well into the early 1990s, but decades of exposure to the elements finally took a toll on the eaves and gutters, leaving them structurally unsound and the roof in dire need of replacement.

A $14 million reconstruction effort, led by Skanska and Quinn Evans | Architects, involved a complete replacement of two-thirds of the 90,000-sf roof (the remaining portion had been replaced in the late 1990s), repairs to an underground stormwater system, and insulating attic spaces to help reduce heat loss and minimize ice damming.

The Building Team was tasked with devising a replacement system that would replicate the landmark roof while also improving drainage performance. The solution was a custom-built eave design that features built-in gutters that slope 1/16-inch per foot to the drains to promote positive drainage and reduce the chance of leaks. The eave and gutter boxes were wrapped with an ice and water shield as a second line of defense, and a drainage tube was installed leading from that shield to below the soffit; any water reaching this layer would be spotted dripping from the tube, and corrective action be taken.

The result is a brand new “historic” roof that will protect Saarinen's masterpiece for many years. —Dave Barista, Managing Editor

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