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Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum

ColorGard® Snow Retention System By S-5! Is Finishing Touch For Museum's Metal Roof Retrofit

In places like Colorado, new metal roof installations are seldom complete without one final detail: the installation of a safe, reliable snow retention system. At the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, located at the former Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, the system chosen was ColorGard® by S-5!.

Transferred from the United States Air Force to a group of volunteers in 1994, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is located in what was previously known at Lowry AFB’s Hangar #1. The hangar-turned-museum boasts more than 182,000 square feet of exhibit space filled with iconic aircraft, space vehicles, artifacts, military uniforms and much more.

Prior to getting a new roof, the massive hangar stood as a testament to the longevity of metal. Its old 20-gauge corrugated metal roof was at the end of its useful service life but had been installed way back in 1938. The new roof was installed right over the top. It is comprised of 92,400 square feet of curved standing seam roofing, formed at the job site with a New Tech Machinery Series SSQ II™ MultiPro Roof Panel Machine with 675 tooling. The coil for the project was from Fabral.

There were two overriding challenges associated with the project, both of which led to the decision to install a new jobsite roll formed metal roof right over the old, with panels formed from mill finish Galvalume steel, rather than a painted product.

The first was the sheer magnitude of the project, and its timing. Removing and replacing the large radiused roof during the cold winter months, while keeping the museum open for its patrons, would be difficult, if not impossible. Adding to that, was the shape and height of the roof – curved and more than 100’ off the ground with a circumference measurement from eave-to-eave over the top of the barrel at 308 linear feet.

And there the was the issue of appearance. Standards by the City & County of Denver’s Historical Landmark Preservation Commission dictated the historic look of the building be maintained with the new roof system.

Project consultant, Alec Garbini and AH Architecture were brought on board to oversee the project. They were tasked with finding a roofing contractor who could help custom-design and construct a system, and handle the removal and replacement of the large radiused roof. 

Colorado Custom Metal, Inc. of Glenwood Springs, CO, was selected as the roofing contractor and proposed to leave the existing corrugated metal roof in place while adding a new light-weight roof system right over the top. This approach would allow the museum to remain open while the new roof system was constructed.

Mill-finished Galvalume material was selected for the standing seam panels to preserve the look of the old hanger and meet the criteria of the historical society.

To facilitate the installation of the new roof, Colorado Custom Metal first fabricated 25,000 linear feet of 6”-high zee (Z) purlins from 16 Gauge GI steel in their metal shop. Installers then attached the z purlins through the existing corrugated deck and into the main frame of the building. By securing the zees to the main frame, they transferred the load of the new roof system and raised the new fastening point for the new panels 6” higher. 

Next, they laid down two layers of 3”-thick isocyanurate insulation board between the purlins, providing the building with an added R-value of 38. Finally, installers enclosed the insulation and Z Purlins with a high-temperature ice and water shield membrane.

To form the roof panels, Winslow Crane Service hoisted the coil and panel former to the roof level, suspending it a few inches off the deck. Panels were then run in 77’ segments and joined using a custom expansion joint end lap to create 308’ long panels that could be installed from eave to eave in one step. The formed panels are 18” wide with a 1-3/4” snap seam profile. The panels were curved around the radius of the barrel as they were installed.

Fabral supplied the 24” wide, 24-gauge unpainted Galvalume roofing coils with satin finish, as well as more than 300 flat sheets to fabricate the flashings, trims and components for the project.   

Once the new roof was installed, the project consultant observed heavy snow sliding off the new satin-finished metal roof panels in greater volume than the pre-existing corrugated roof panels. He recommended doing something to control rooftop avalanche conditions.

That prompted Colorado Custom Metal to contact Colorado Springs, CO-based S-5!, who designed and engineered the ColorGard® snow retention system used to mitigate the avalanche problems. The installation required 2,400 linear feet of unpunched ColorGard, 1,600 S-5-V Clamps and a like number of S-5’s VersaClips.

Manufactured from high-tensile, certified aluminum and extensively tested for load-to-failure results, ColorGard has shown to dramatically reduce the risks associated with rooftop avalanches. The system complements the look of the roof, with a clean appearance and perfect color and finish-matching, all designed to last the life of the roof.

S-5!’s expertise proved invaluable to the project and left the contractor very satisfied.

“I was particularly impressed with S-5!”, said Mark Osborn, president of Colorado Custom Metal. “They were the only snow retention company in the marketplace who could tell us the mathematical equation required to calculate the snow loads for their products. There was no guesswork–an engineered avalanche control system with no messy glues or adhesives. We didn’t even have to penetrate the roofing envelope to achieve our desired results. The ColorGard system also provided added strength to the overall diaphragm of the new roof system.”

To see a video presentation of the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, produced by S-5!, click here.

About S-5!®


Since 1992, S-5! has been one of the world's leading authorities on metal roof attachment solutions. S-5!’s zero-penetration clamps attach ancillary items to standing seam and conceal-fix metal roofs, while maintaining roof integrity and warranties. S-5! solutions are engineered for a variety of applications: snow retention, fall protection and wind performance systems, satellite dishes, solar arrays, signs/banners, light fixtures, stack/flue bracing, walkways, air conditioning, lightning protection, equipment screens, conduit, condensate lines and more. Made in the U.S.A., S-5!’s products have revolutionized the metal roofing industry and are now installed on more than 2 million metal roofs worldwide, including 6 GW of PV, providing unsurpassed strength and longevity.  For more information, visit  s-5.com.

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