Called a “world of wonder” by The Dallas Morning News, the Perot Museum of Science and Nature has quickly become an icon, its unique shape adding more character to the downtown Dallas skyline. This unusual building took three years, multiple plans, lots of teamwork and a group of dedicated people who believed in making it happen. Among those were commercial roofing experts KPOST Company, who were recently given the Eagle Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) for their work on the Perot Museum.
“It takes dedication and teamwork, plus a commitment to quality. But more importantly, it requires collaboration amongst all the contractors, architects and designers to ensure that the building comes together on time, within budget and without issues,” said Steve Little, KPOST Company president. “Our team was uniquely qualified for this project because we bring to the table multiple services, talent, and the ability to complete unusual, complex commercial roofing projects.”
The Best Laid Plans
“I believe I saw the first drawings for the Perot Museum in 2008. Of course, as with many projects of this nature, the designs and plans did change,” said Aileen Struble, KPOST Company Senior Estimator. “Our team worked side-by-side with contractors and the architect to ascertain the best materials for the building so that it would be aesthetically pleasing and well-built.”
In addition to recommending various design elements, KPOST Company was tasked with ensuring the plaza and terrace roofing was water-tight. This area contains a water feature along with other complexities, but the KPOST team was up to the task.
Let the Games Begin
The exterior escalator is certainly a dramatic element and provided a challenge for the contractor team. According to Ryan Little, KPOST Company Project Management Department Head, there were plenty of obstacles to overcome.
“The only access to the escalator was through a window or from the catwalk level above. Our workers were using personal fall arrest systems and power grip suction cups to gain access, and then repel down a 30 plus degree sloped roof to gain access to the work area,” said Ryan. “As always, the primary goal is to keep our team and the other workers safe while also completing the work in a quality manner.”
There were multiple teams required to install the escalator. For KPOST Company, the collaboration between the subcontractors to provide waterproofing, glass, and plumbing was critical to ensure the enclosure would be leak free. In addition, a gutter was also required but this was no ordinary gutter.
“The surface of the Perot Museum has multiple un-uniform architectural features requiring precise measurements for the entire length of the gutter,” said Ryan. “Ultimately we fabricated a mock-up to ensure the gutter would attach properly since there is no room for error with these types of installations.”
Of course, that was only one element of the overall project for KPOST Company. Another complex portion of the project was the plaza.
“The plaza needed to slope and drain, plus there is a water feature that runs through it, so figuring out how to keep everything water-tight was a high priority,” said Aileen. “In the end we devised a membrane system with tapered concrete and drainage channels.”
Ultimately the KPOST team overcame the challenges with the plaza and terrace areas, working with a strong team of manufacturers to ensure the best roof system. KPOST installed an 80 mil fleece back TPO roof system over the entire plaza and terrace area, which included wrapping hundreds of rebar supports for future structure topping slab tie-in as well as weeks of coordination with other subcontractors to establish curb designs that could be wrapped and waterproofed. In addition, they coordinated the formation and placement of concrete stairs, ramps, water features, and planters that maintained the design intent and constructability of the plaza while also providing a watertight system.
To ensure the highest levels of quality, KPOST contracted with an electronic leak detection testing agency to apply small currents across the roof surface as a means to find any breaks in the membrane. Upon completion of the test, KPOST installed the required high density insulation protection board, drainage mats and protection mats. As a safety measure, a second test was completed before the structural concrete was poured.
It Takes a Village
“Projects of this complexity require constant collaboration and communication to ensure a quality end result,” said Ryan. “You have to keep your finger on the pulse of the entire project and be willing to pitch in wherever you can add value.”
The Perot Museum is part of the Perot family legacy and a gift to the North Texas area, particularly the children who have a unique place to go and experience all types of science and nature. But it took more than just an idea. It took an entire team of people who believe in the project and wanted to bring it to life.
“It is an honor to receive this Excellence in Construction award from ABC for the Perot Museum project. The museum is an important building, both from an architectural and design standpoint and from the legacy it leaves for the North Texas area,” said Steve. “It’s an honor to work side-by-side with great teams, other contractors, architects and good folks like the Perot family to bring something like this to life.”