Marin County Civic Center

A Roof to Make Frank Lloyd Wright Proud

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When the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael, CA, was finished about 60 years ago, its striking roof color was dubbed Marin Blue. But time and the elements not only faded the luscious roof color, they also took a toll on its weather resistance. Even a reroofing system installed in the late 1990s didn’t solve the problems for long, and leaks were commonplace for most of the building’s life. So Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW) undertook a project in 2017 to completely rehab the roof and protect the legacy of the iconic structure, the largest completed public project designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a valuable part of his body of work.

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Housing the Marin County Library, courtrooms, government offices, and a cafeteria, the 470,168 square-foot structure has what has been described as a “deceptively complex” roofing system. During the rehab project, the contractor, Rainbow Waterproofing and Restoration Company, used hydro-demolition, and sometimes even hammer and chisel, to strip off the old roof coating down to the bare original cast-in-place concrete roof deck. An accelerated weathering testing method was used to make sure the new Sika Sikalastic polyurethane roof membrane will be durable and resist fading, high winds and fire. In addition, using an original coating chip, the original Marin Blue color was recreated.  

According to a July, 2019 County of Marin news release, work on the southern wing and library dome was completed in March, 2019. Roofing rehab is continuing on the House of Justice wing and is expected to finish up in Spring, 2020, weather permitting. By summer, according to the County of Marin, work is tentatively planned to begin on refurbishing the building’s skylights, taking care to match the original design plans by Wright.

Throughout the project, as described in the StrXur article, “Protecting the Legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright,” everything done by the project director Arntz Builders, the architects with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE), and the roofing contractor had to be accurately documented since the building is listed as both a California and National Historic Landmark. The WJE architect in charge summed up the required documentation as essentially every decision that was made on the construction, as well as treatment of the existing historic materials.

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Because of the detailed level of documentation needed, and to coordinate between the two staff architects overseeing the project, WJE has been using Bluebeam Revu on the project as a convenient system of documentation and communication. Revu allows real-time collaboration among team members. Using mobile Revu technology, they can even track progress while in the field, easily sorting drawings by date to see what changes have been made daily.

After four layers of recoating and patchwork to the roof over 55 years, the County of Marin is looking forward to the stability this project brings and maintaining the look of the historic building for many years to come.

If it’s time to improve your team’s collaboration and documentation handling, contact Applied Software today for a quick discovery call about Bluebeam Revu. You can even download a free 30-day trial version of Bluebeam Revu and try it for yourself. When it’s time to add Revu to your stable of technology tools, talk to the industry experts at Applied Software.  

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