Copper Craftsmanship

Exquisite copper detailing earned the re-roofing of Sampson Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the 2020 Metal Construction News Building and Roofing Award for the Metal Roofing Retrofit category. Judges acclaimed the high-level craftsmanship needed to replicate the building’s intricate slate and copper roof.

Intricate and unique detailing puts Naval Academy re-roof over the top

By Christopher Brinckerhoff

Photo: Tommy Bullough, Wagner Roofing

Sampson Hall, along with two adjacent buildings, Maury Hall and Mahan Hall, are Beaux- Arts style education buildings designed by American architect Ernest Flagg. They were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. A project goal was to reproduce the historic building’s original, 100-plus-year-old slate and copper roof as close to the original as possible.

Complex Copper

To reproduce copper roof components, Wagner Roofing Co., based in Hyattsville, Md., began by methodically recording and removing each component.

Dean Jagusch, president at Wagner Roofing, says, “Once production began on the project, our crews carefully removed the existing ornamental pieces and marked each location around the building. Once removed, the original pieces were brought back to our metal shop, as samples, where our team could replicate the original design in 20-ounce copper.”

Next, fabricators at Wagner Roofing formed and assembled roofing components at the company’s shop, which were delivered directly to the job site.

Jagusch says one of the most complex parts of the project was fabricating ornamental copper fascia and a built-in copper gutter system for the perimeter of the building. “Ornamental halfwheel and hubcap pieces required hand assembly in-house. In order to do so, a parts pattern was created, nested, and cut on a plasma cutter into 16 individual pieces. Each piece was then soldered together by hand, along with custom stamped pieces, to recreate the ornamental fascia pieces in 20-ounce copper.”

Photo: Tommy Bullough, Wagner Roofing

Also, part of that process, Mercury Metal Sales Inc., Hanover, Pa., custom stamped the hubcap pieces, which were assembled in conjunction with break metal pieces by fabricators at Wagner Roofing.

In terms of fabricating individual pieces, Wagner Roofing built on its institutional knowledge, having also replaced similar slate and copper roofing on Maury Hall in 2016 and Mahan Hall in 2013. One thing they did differently for this project is cut some repetitive pieces with a plasma cutter instead of individually by hand. “This is the type of work that our company specializes in, typically with an emphasis on historic or restoration work; metal roofing makes up about half of our projects,” Jagusch says.

Customized Installation

Subsequently, during installation, Wagner Roofing installers encountered numerous challenges fitting new roofing material to the building, constructed in 1907.

“A complex demand for artistry came with the 34 custom copper-clad dormers that were sprinkled through the slate mansard,” Jagusch says. “Each dormer received a new standing seam roof, copper wall cladding, mitered copper moldings and copper window wells. On a 100-year-old building, corners are rarely square, and with dormers located around the perimeter of the mansard roof, that meant a lot of custom cut and soldered miter joints on each outside corner. Plus, given the crown molding profile of each of those sections, our team of metal craftsmen had to hand-cut each angle in the field before soldering the joint in-place.”

Photo: Tommy Bullough, Wagner Roofing

The largest section of copper roofing is an 8,114-square-foot upper main standing seam roof, which was removed down to the decking. Wagner Roofing installed 1-inch polyiso insulation and 1/2- inch CDX plywood, mechanically fastened to the existing concrete deck. Then, installers primed and adhered WIP 300HT underlayment membrane supplied by Carlisle WIP Products, a division of Carlisle Construction Materials Inc., Carlisle, Pa., along with a slip sheet to allow for movement. On top of that crews installed 21-inch-wide copper panels with a 1-inch-high, doubled-locked standing seam that runs ridge to eave.

Jagusch says the slate installation was also quite unique, given the age of the concrete deck. “In order to properly hang the slate on each individual copper nail, a series of pressure treated 2-by-4 sleepers were first installed into the ice and water shield-adhered concrete deck with threaded anchors set in epoxy. By doing so, the sleepers provided an adequate nailing base for the slate installation, again promoting the longevity of the system as a whole.”

To complete the roofing retrofit, Revere Copper Products Inc., Rome, N.Y., supplied 25 tons of 20-ounce copper. Wagner also used 50% tin/50% lead solder, and North Country Unfading Black Slate.