The usually busy Fort Hays State University campus in Hays, KS, was closer to a ghost town when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. Students were attending classes online and athletic events were canceled. It turned out to be the perfect time to reroof
– and re-wall – the school's Gross Memorial Coliseum.
After 50 years of enduring heavy winds, hailstorms and whatever Mother Nature could throw at it, the building’s aging batten seam copper roof was leaking. There was no saving it, so it was torn off by local contractor Roofmasters, and then replaced
with a McElroy Metal 238T symmetrical standing seam panel system.
“Everyone was used to the way that roof looked,” says Kelly McMurphy, AIA, Partner at Landmark Architects of Hutchinson, KS. “The owner wanted to keep the look of the standing seam roof and the color. Metal was the only option as a replacement
and to keep the same look, Dark Bronze was chosen as the color.”
McMurphy says the roof is very visible from the nearby highway and everyone wanted to be sure it would look good and last for decades.
“Working with Roofmasters and (McElroy Metal National Recover Manager) Charlie Smith, I felt we had all our bases covered,” McMurphy says. “Roofmasters has installed a lot of standing seam roofing. I knew this roof would be detailed
better and installed better than the original roof. I couldn’t be more pleased with how it all turned out.”
Luke Haines, President and owner of Roofmasters, says the 2-inch by 2-inch redwood battens the copper panels were attached with had disintegrated from being subjected to years of extreme heat under the copper caps. His crew removed the battens and replaced
some of the roof deck, and then covered the entire roof with a self-adhering, high-temperature ice and water shield. Roofmasters installed 50,000 square feet of McElroy Metal’s 238T symmetrical standing seam panels on the areas to be recovered
– most as roofing, but some as walls. The Dark Bronze panel color resembles the patinaed copper panels that were removed.
“We’ve installed this system on many roofs, but this was the first as a large vertical wall,” Haines says. “It’s an exceptional watertight system, so it can be installed as a wall.”
The building’s main perimeter roof sections are pitched 14:12 but four corner entrances are demarked by 20’-tall, metal-clad vertical walls over smaller 8:12-pitched roof sections. The new roof panels for the main roof sections and the lower-sloped
segments, as well as the wall panels, were all formed by a portable roll former hoisted onto the building’s main flat roof. Once formed, panels up to 65’ long were hand-lowered into position using a rope and clamp setup.
“Where the wall panels meet the lower slope roofing sections, there were some serious leaking problems there,” Haines recalls. “The original copper panels were not continuous panels; they were only eight feet long and they were folded
at the bottom of the wall where it meets the lower sloped roofing. Years of expanding and contracting left some gaps. With the new roof, we were able to work up a detail to avoid that problem. The wall panels are pinned at the top, so they can move
at the bottom. Customized proper flashing at the transition of the vertical to steep slope was installed and stripped in with high-temp ice-and-water underlayment. We were careful to design and implement redundancy in the details as the roof
and wall project will be here for years in the future.”
Another challenging detail was the internal gutter at the bottom of the steep-sloped roofing above the entrances. Haines says the PVC-coated metal was heat-welded with strips at the laps to make it watertight. The gutters are more than a foot wide. The
details were important from the design to the installation and Roofmasters’ workmen were a key component for a timely quality finish.
Gross Memorial Coliseum, constructed in 1973 with a capacity of 6,814, was named a Top 5 Arena in NCAA Division II by Hero Sports, and made the NCAA’s 2018 Best Division II Arenas list. It was voted the Best Arena in Division II by T3Bracketology
Twitter Arena Bracket Challenge in 2020.