Library Reroof

Historic Elements & Modern Technology Come Together at Stanford University

by Ali Turner, editorial assistant


Stanford University boasts an impressive collection of over 20 libraries within their university system. From engineering to law to philosophy to medicine, this private research university has a library for every student. For those interested in East Asian studies, Stanford’s Lathrop Library is their destination, for it houses one of the world’s largest collections of East Asian history and literature. The collections and services within the new Lathrop Library were previously held in another building on campus, but that building was demolished in 2015. They are now housed in a renovated building formerly occupied by the Graduate School of Business. While the move provided the East Asian archives with a safer dwelling, the building’s deteriorating roof was the last piece of the renovation puzzle.

Stanford University, located in California’s Bay Area, has stringent architectural guidelines for their campus. Materials employed are required to not only reflect the design concept and character of the campus, but also have qualities of permanence and durability. The color palette of the campus is a range of warm earth tones, with walls bathed in neutral colors, and roofs are a mixed orange-red terracotta color. Visual unobtrusiveness is key, with rooftop equipment and roof screens painted dark gray. Such stringent requirements can be daunting for a roofing contractor tasked with a project on the historic campus. For Blue’s Roofing, Milpitas, California, the library reroof was a familiar job, for the company performs 2-3 roofing projects per year on the Stanford University campus.

The reroof began in March 2018, was completed in October, and Blue’s Roofing had no considerable issues with the project. “Stanford is very proactive when it comes to maintaining the integrity of their buildings and roofs,” said Leo Ibarra, vice president of operations at Blue’s Roofing and the next WSRCA president. “Because of this, roofing jobs on the campus are usually straightforward and without complications.” Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, San Francisco, California, was the roofing and waterproofing consulting firm on the project who ensured the reroof aligned with Stanford’s timeline and budget.

For the Lathrop Library, the existing roof had met its life expectancy and needed several new roofing components. The original tiles, which were structurally sound, were removed and stacked during the roof system installation, before being laid back down. Blue’s Roofing chose Derbigum® XPS, a triple-reinforced APP modified bitumen waterproofing membrane, for the flat sections of the roof. The triple reinforcement includes a heat-resistant non-woven fiberglass mat, followed by a fiberglass and polyester scrim that increases the membrane’s strength and durability. GCP’s Grace Ice and Water Shield® HT high-temperature self-adhered roofing underlayment was used under the tile, and a PMMA roof membrane at the gutter trough. GCP’s roofing underlayment is composed of two waterproofing materials, including an innovative and proprietary rubberized asphalt adhesive combined with a high-performance polymeric film with UV barrier properties. Equipped with Ripcord® Split Release On-Demand technology embedded in the adhesive, the underlayment is easy to apply in vulnerable areas, such as valley, chimneys, and roof-to-wall transitions.

Gladding, McBean, an innovative provider of terra cotta, clay pipe, and tile products, has historically provided Stanford with a custom color blend of their two-piece clay tile that fits the aesthetics of their campus. Their tile is a perfect fit for Stanford, for it combines old world craftmanship with modern technology to create a stunning roof profile that matches the beauty of the university. Blended carefully to avoid streaks, the mix is carefully constructed of 50% blended red, 45% #8 mix, and 5% Monterey blend. Ridge, ridge end, hip, and hip starters are also in colors matching the clay roof tiles.

Despite the library being open to students and faculty during the reroof, Blue’s Roofing had no issues with pedestrian interference. “Stanford’s operations and maintenance teams always work hard to make sure that we are able to do our work efficiently without inhibiting the safety of students and faculty,” said Ibarra. Some pathways and areas surrounding the roof were sectioned off while it was being worked on, but generally the project did not interfere with the daily operations of the library.

Stanford University’s Lathrop Library now has a new roof that not only preserves the historic features of the campus using modern roofing technology, but also protects the invaluable resources housed inside the building so that students can enjoy them for decades to come.