Roof Repairs Ready for Leaky Meson Lab
The Meson Laboratory's scalloped roof is part of Fermilab's architectural heritage from founder Robert Wilson and in-house artist Angela Gonzales. The design, while an aesthetic success, is flawed functionally. The weakness lies in the corrugated steel arches, the ridges of which run perpendicular to the flow of the water. "They do not encourage water to move from the roof," said Elaine McCluskey, FESS Project Engineer. The roof has many steel-to-steel connection points, which provide inlets for water. Unlike the roof of a house, in which shingles coat a frame support, the Meson arches are both the roof's structural support and its outer barrier. Without a watertight coating, the roof has been leaking almost since it was built.
Repairs will begin the second week in October and last up to two months, if the weather is cooperative. Workers will continue to use the building during repairs. The contractor will set up scaffolding next week to access the roof; employees should not walk under the scaffolding unless they are using a posted entrance or exit. As the final step of the repairs, the contractor will spray on a rubber sealant. Meson Lab workers will need to park only in posted areas to protect their cars from sealant spray.
The renovation will include power-washing, filling in cavities with a mastic-type material and two coats of a spray-on rubber coating. The material, used in many industrial roofing applications, will dry as a sheet. The material's manufacture said Fermilab's Meson roof is one of its most unique uses.
Once finished, the contractor has guaranteed the roof to be water-tight for 10 years. The roof will be restored in the bright blue and terracotta colors used throughout Fermilab, in line with the original design intent. "The architectural legacy of Dr. Wilson is something we try to preserve as we remodel buildings and look to future facilities," said McCluskey.