December 08, 2011

Communications Building roof replacement OK’d

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees today (Dec. 8) approved replacing the roof on the Communications Building on the Carbondale campus.

Replacement of the 131,000-square-foot roof will begin early next spring and could be completed in six to eight months, according to Philip S. Gatton, director of Plant and Service Operations at SIU Carbondale.  The roof replacement is also among the last major campus renovation projects that stem from the devastating May 8, 2009, wind storm and subsequent storms.  The roof replacement work could extend into spring 2013 if not finished by the fall.

The board approved Geissler Roofing Co. Inc., of Belleville to replace the roof for $1.83 million. The funds come from a combination of insurance proceeds, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the physical plant’s deferred maintenance account, and the University’s Facilities Maintenance Fee.

The roof replacement will not impact classes, Gatton said.  The roof features multiple areas at various levels, and work will begin in “critical areas” where there is significant damage.

“There will be a lot of activity.  We will try and minimize the disruption that we have.  Contractors will be working around the area and they will probably need some parking areas” for equipment and materials, Gatton said.

“Replacing the roof on the Communications Building will not only insure that our classes go on and our students are safe, but will also protect our professors’ offices, our millions of dollars in equipment, and WSIU’s ability to stay on the air during crises.  It is a repair that is badly needed,” said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

The building’s existing roof has about a 20-year life span, and was nearing the end when the May 8, 2009, storm hit the region, Gatton said.  There were numerous leaks and moisture problems in the building. 

The new roof, which will be tan, will be more energy efficient, impact resistant and better insulated.  The roof will have a 30-year warranty and is expected to withstand 90 mph winds, Gatton said.  There is a marked improvement in today’s roofing systems from 15 to 20 years ago, he said.

“What we will be putting on is a much higher-quality roof,” Gatton said.  “We are getting another 10 years on the roof, a much more solid roof, and we won’t have any of the maintenance problems.”

There are about 500 buildings on the SIU Carbondale campus, and probably 40 “major” buildings, Gatton said.  In the last few years the University has been able to replace about 25 roofs using facilities maintenance fee funds.

“Without the facilities maintenance fee a project like this probably wouldn’t be happening,” he said.

Roofing systems, while not necessarily exciting, are “the biggest headache you can have on campus,” Gatton said.  Being unable to keep a building dry can result in costlier issues including damaged equipment and ceilings.

“We put a great deal of emphasis here on our roof replacement.,” he said.

Students pay a facilities maintenance fee and it helps offset increases in facility maintenance and utility costs.  The fee, created in 2007, assists the University in making improvements to facilities including roofs, heating-ventilation-air conditioning, primary electrical systems, domestic water lines and the aesthetics of academic facilities on campus.