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Missouri Botanical Garden

Western Specialty Contractors Takes Extra Care to Protect Vegetation While Re-Roofing Research Facility at Historic Missouri Botanical Garden

in Companies/News

Western Specialty Contractors – St. Louis Roofing Branch faced a multitude of unique challenges recently when it replaced the roof on the John S. Lehmann Building located in the center of the Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the oldest botanical institutions in the United States and a National Historic Landmark.

Founded in 1859 by philanthropist Henry Shaw, the 79-acre Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, MO features Shaw’s original 1850 estate home, the oldest continually operated greenhouse west of the Mississippi River, the largest Japanese garden in North America, the Climatron geodesic dome conservatory, a children’s garden and pioneer village, and a rose garden, among other features.

Not open to the public, the John S. Lehmann Building, opened in 1972, houses the garden’s executive staff and important research programs, historical herbarium samples and a scientific and archival library. The St. Louis Roofing Branch was contracted to remove two existing asphalt roofs on the building and replace them with a fully-adhered, 80 mil TPO membrane roofing system. There was no room for error in the execution of this project.

Accessing the building through the botanical garden was a major concern. A 15-ton truck crane and half of the roofing material had to be hauled 700 feet via a walking trail to the building. Significant precautions were taken to protect the garden’s plant life along the trail from damage by the equipment and compaction of the soil. Western crews worked with garden officials to evaluate which trees along the route would need to be trimmed in order to make room for the materials.

“The crane and each forklift load of material had to be carefully escorted to make sure our material handling equipment stayed on the walking path and did not bump into any overhead branches,” said former St. Louis Roofing Branch Manager Keegan Tune, who is now Branch Manager of Western’s new Kansas City Roofing Branch. “The elevated level of skill in workmanship and communication exercised by our field crews made this project a success in all aspects.”

Another challenge that Western crew’s faced on the project was maintaining a tight schedule. Phase one of the project had to be completed before any decorative lighting for the garden’s annual “Garden Glow” event could be installed around the building.

“In order to shorten the critical path of the schedule, we had to fast track the submittal process and start immediate procurement of the materials. After the material was in place, it was a matter of providing sufficient labor and overtime until the deadline was met,” said Tune.

To protect the building’s valuable contents during the construction process, Western crews worked with the plumbing and ceiling contractors to install new internal overflow drains and piping to safely convey storm water from the roof to the retaining area. An architectural sheet metal company was also used to match the existing custom metal edging profile of the drainage system.

Western completed the project on time and within budget with zero change orders due to the accuracy of the specifications and drawings.

“At the end of the day, it is very rewarding to have taken part in helping preserve plants and science for the future generations to enjoy,” said Tune.

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. 

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