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DU installs new copper roof to fix leaks on the Driscoll Bridge

Campus officials have replaced the copper roof in the Driscoll University Center.

If you’ve walked past the Driscoll Bridge in the last six weeks, you probably noticed the construction scaffolding over Evans Avenue or the bright, new copper roof.

That’s because workers have been replacing the roof on the Driscoll University Center.

University Architect Mark Rodgers says that in an ideal world, copper roofs will last centuries. However, he says, Driscoll’s original roof contained design flaws that led to water leaks in the time since the roof was installed in the mid 1980s.

“While we strive for the best long-term solutions for such things, it is not surprising that we will have roof repairs needed almost constantly over the 4-million-plus square feet of the campus, so I am not intending to say or imply that the architect, builder and roofer of the Driscoll Bridge were careless,” Rodgers says.

Campus officials say the crux of the problem involved an internal gutter system with multiple joints. The joints were the source of the leaks and would have been difficult to fix.  

“It became apparent to us that it was better to replace the roof and modify the existing internal gutter system to an external gutter system,” says Pam Carnahan, physical plant director for facilities management. “It was best for long-term maintenance to repair the existing roof at the same time.”

Roofs are difficult to perfect and are most likely to experience failures because they are the most exposed part of a building, Rodgers says.

The copper on the new roof appears brighter than copper on other buildings around campus, but that’s not for long, Carnahan says. After exposure to weather, the copper will change color to match the dark brown color on other buildings. DU’s copper roofs have used an average of 98 percent recycled materials during the last twenty years, which is part of the University’s commitment to sustainability.

DU started construction Feb. 24 and should be finished by June 1.

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