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Roof Insulation Case Studies

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A NEW STAGE IS SET FOR NEW ORLEANS’ NEXT CULTURAL REVOLUTION

By Dennis Claypoole

New Orleans, a city whose cultural and multilingual heritage is as diverse as America itself, has long been identified throughout its rich and vibrant history by the many characteristics and iconic imagery that is immediately called to mind upon the very mention of its name. Among the more recognizable are the birthplace of Jazz, Home of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday, Cajun cooking, elegant architecture (as demonstrated in the French Quarter), and even its major sports franchises.

This Mecca of tourism and vitality, welcoming the waters of the mighty Mississippi River as they flow gracefully into the Gulf of Mexico, is also unique in that it is the only major US city whose elevation currently lies between 2’ and 10’ below sea level. It is little wonder that this beautiful port has often been called “The Most Unique City In America.” At the turn of the new millennium, it seemed that little could hold back the development of new and exciting industries into this area of the Deep South. The future seemed bright, with endless possibilities awaiting on the horizon.

All of that changed one day in late August of 2005.

Although portions of New Orleans have been flooded multiple times due to hurricanes over the past century, none has had a more devastating effect than Katrina. Although most of the residents had already evacuated by the time the brunt of the storm hit, the tens of thousands that remained bore witness to one of the worst civil engineering disasters in American history. Even though the city narrowly missed a direct hit of Katrina’s fury, the city’s federal flood protection system failed, resulting in over 80% of the city being underwater. To this day, the images of this disaster are burned into America’s collective consciousness. What would remain of this once great city? What shape will the future of New Orleans take in the years and decades to come? What will happen to the true spirit of New Orleans?

Yet, as in many cases throughout American history, out of disaster... springs hope. Although New Orleans has always been known primarily for its music, new and rebuilding industries are adding to the palette of the once bright colors of this historical national treasure. It is now becoming almost as well known for its resurgence as a cultural center for both theater and film production.

A few years ago, Louisiana began offering tax incentives for film and television production. This led to a substantial number of films shot in and around the New Orleans area, including Ray, Glory Road, All the Kings Men, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, to name a few, and has brought the city the nickname “Hollywood South.”

These lucrative tax incentives prompted New Orleans native Trey Burvant, a film consultant with a background in theater and film as both an actor and producer in Boston and New York, to return home in 2008 and search for a viable location to build a production complex. He realized that although there were a lot of “on-location” film productions happening around town, there was no dedicated soundstage facility available for production. But more than just that, Trey envisioned turning this insight into an opportunity to build one of the nation’s first “green” film studios.

As they say in the movies, flashback to Susan Brennan, a local condominium developer who had purchased a historic warehouse site in the up-and-coming Lower Garden District as a long-term investment back in 1998. The property remained vacant and needed extensive renovations, but the building envelope was sound, including apparently, the roof. Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina changed all of that. Although this area of the city was not flooded, the high winds had compromised the original metal roof to the point it needed to be replaced.

Susan turned to the architectural firm John C. Williams Architect LLC, with whom she had worked on previous projects. She shared her desire to convert this warehouse into high-end condominiums, and had the architect begin preliminary work on schematic designs. However, the economic climate of post-Katrina was considerably different from that of pre-Katrina. Ms. Brennan discovered she could not get the budgets and potential tax credits to work out for a condo project. This property, like so many others in New Orleans, would remain vacant, waiting for the next opportune time or economic climate shift.

Enter Trey Burvant.

While searching for the perfect location, Trey identified this warehouse property and tracked down Brennan, approaching her with the idea of converting the site into the nation’s first green sustainable independent film and soundstage complex. On a walking tour of the property, he shared his ideas to renovate the existing buildings, and to construct a new structure with stages and office space. Brennan loved the idea so much that she and Burvant incorporated and formed Second Line Stages, LLC, to make this dream a reality. Of course, as with any good movie, timing, pacing and racing to meet deadlines all came into play. As the design progressed, it looked as if reaching the dream would all come down to the wire. Financing was going to be dependent on receiving state-issued tax incentives, and those incentives were due to expire at the end of the year.

Trey Burvant explains, “When this project was conceived back in March of 2008, we learned that the tax credit had an expiration date of December 31, only 9 months later. We knew we had to meet certain challenges in order to get the project to qualify for this 40% tax credit.” If this project was to be a success, good solid planning was going to be a priority. A project team, comprising Brennan and Burvant, Landon Anderson, an architect with John C. Williams Architects, LLC., and Linda Landesberg, Project Manager for the general contractor Landis Construction Company, assembled and worked vigorously on all aspects of the proposal to meet the tight deadlines.

Finally, in late December of 2008, just barely meeting the deadline to utilize Louisiana’s aggressive tax incentive packages designed to attract production of this nature to the state, Second Line Stages procured the necessary financing to develop this location into a $32 million state-of-the-art movie soundstage complex.

Tax incentives met, and financing in hand, construction began on this new 90,000 square foot complex in January 2009. Aggressive target completion deadlines were set for each phase of the project. Linda Landesberg explains, “There are actually four buildings that are being renovated into two of the soundstages, and an associated flex space, or the carpentry space, which is approximately 38,500 square feet. The new building is a little over 47,000 square feet with an 18,000 square foot soundstage, and five stories of office tower with a penthouse,” said Landesberg. “The historic part of the building will be completed by November 1, 2009; the new building should be completed by February 1, 2010.”

Naturally, the additional goal was to make certain that the flavor of New Orleans remained intact. Landon Anderson, architect with John C. Williams Architects LLC, said the goal for the existing building was to maintain all of its historical integrity and save as much as possible. “There has been pretty extensive graffiti all over the site,” explained Anderson. “This graffiti has drawn curious people to the building, and the production support areas of the project will maintain the graffiti as part of the history of the building.”

Because of the tight schedule and equally tight budget, the design team had to look carefully at product selection and other unique ways of keeping the renovation costs down, yet still hold to their “green” principles, since the studio was to be built in compliance with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification, which is awarded to structures that achieve superior environmental performance.

The project required the installation of a new roof, covering roughly 60,000 square feet. The existing roof was irreparable. “The building had its share of weather damage, and has been unoccupied for years,” said Anderson. The developers were looking for a roofing system that would meet the local codes, keep within the budget, and stand up to the elements in hurricane prone New Orleans.

The architect specified that the building meet the new codes of 130 MPH wind rating in the roofing system. The team originally settled on a roof that specified 4” polyiso insulation with a 5/8” cover board on top, mechanically fastened and covered by a thermoplastic membrane. The goal was to achieve a certain thermal value, reflectivity, and use products that had a certain percentage of recycled materials in them.

As the bid and budgeting process proceeded, it was found that the specified roofing system would surpass the budget projections. The additional step of installing cover boards over the insulation (to meet wind uplift ratings) was an added expense due to the additional labor and material costs. A new and unique solution was needed to meet all of the specifications and to stay within budget.

“That is what brought us to this new Atlas insulation,” said Frank Montalbano, of Juneau Odenwald, Inc., the roofing contractor. Montalbano had developed the estimate with the general contractor from the outset of the bid process. Montalbano had met Atlas Sales Rep Twyla Robertson at the Roofing Supply Group – New Orleans. Twyla explained how the new ACFoam®-IV has an innovative facer attached to the insulation that eliminates the need for purchasing and installing cover boards to meet wind uplift ratings, similar to what was specified for this retrofit, thereby dramatically lowering the overall costs of the roof.

After learning about this new product, Montalbano needed no more convincing. He proposed to the project team that ACFoam®-IV would work in the new roofing system. It could meet all the criteria, and just as important, keep the project on budget due to the fact that no cover boards were needed in the installation. Montalbano explained, “We found that by incorporating the ACFoam®-IV product, we could get the same wind rating without a special cover board and using fewer fasteners, than we would using regular polyiso, because of the unique facer laminated onto the insulation.” He continued, “The final roofing system for the project is a new 22 gauge steel deck, welded to the existing steel framework. On top of the steel deck, the roofer is installing one 2” layer of ACFoam®-II, one 2” layer of ACFoam®-IV, finished off with one ply of 45 mil thermoplastic roofing membrane. And, because this project is a soundstage, the polyiso products are also utilized as an initial soundproofing on the roof. LEED certification places emphasis on thermal efficiency and sealing up the building envelope, and polyiso has the highest R-value per inch over any other rigid board insulation available in the marketplace. By installing a double layer of insulation for a total of 4” on the roof, we helped the project meet certain LEED requirements.”

The roofing contractor is also putting in new gutters, downspouts, coping, and flashings associated with equipment on the roof. There is also a new structure being built that is part of the project that will have a structural concrete deck, with the concrete being sloped for drainage.

Continuing in additional efforts to meet or exceed LEED certification, hundreds of tons of demolition debris were sent for recycling, rather than landfill.  Also, none of the workers can smoke on the site or within a 20’ radius of the job site. No disposable water bottles are allowed on the site. Water is provided and workers bring their own refillable bottles. All cardboard and trash is recycled, and they have very little waste generated at the site.

Who would’ve dreamed of a building project that is completed on time, on budget, and retains the flavor and history of one of the most unique cities in the United States? Sounds like a happy ending that can only be dreamed up in Hollywood.

Or more correctly, Hollywood South.

Contact Information:

Project Location:
Second Line Stages
800 Richard Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Developer:
Second Line Stages, LLC
432 Walnut Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Trey Burvant
Developer/Co-Founder of Second Line Stages
504-528-3050

General Contractor:
Landis Construction Company
8300 Earhart Boulevard, Suite 300
New Orleans, LA 70118
Linda Landesberg
Project Manager
504-329-4371

Architect:
John C. Williams Architects LLC
824 Barrone Street
New Orleans, LA 70113
Landon Anderson
Architect
504-566-0888

Roofing Contractor:
Juneau Odenwald, Inc.
1600 Annunciation
New Orleans, LA 70130?
Frank Montabano
Sr Project Manager
504-382-6048

Roofing Distributor:
Roofing Supply Group – New Orleans
800 Edwards Ave
New Orleans, LA 70123-3123
(504) 455-6161

Atlas Sales Rep – LA:
Twyla Robertson
936-366-9715 mobile
troberts@atlasroofing.com

Advertising Agency Contact:
Think Agency
Dennis Claypoole – President
1001 N. Lake Destiny Rd.
Suite 300
Maitland, FL 32751
407-875-1999 office
dennis@thinkagency.com