The next time you visit the nation’s capital and happen to be stuck in traffic on 14th Street, take a good look at the roof on the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. The building’s complex, 75,000-square-foot metal roof was constructed by a company that does a lot more than roofing.

The next time you visit the nation’s capital and happen to be stuck in traffic on 14th Street, take a good look at the roof on the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. The building’s complex, 75,000-square-foot metal roof was constructed by a company that does a lot more than roofing.

In fact, the company is called Prospect Waterproofing, and as the name would suggest, its focus is waterproofing. A lot of the company’s work is below grade, and as President Jim Stamer explains, “We do everything from waterproofing an elevator pit to the roof.” Located in Sterling, Va., Prospect Waterproofing covers the Washington-Baltimore area, as well as Virginia as far south as Richmond. The company has been in existence since 1992, the successor to other Prospect companies dating back to 1964.

It’s impressive that a company comfortable working in the ground can do such a high-profile roofing job. But Stamer isn’t surprised, “We do a quality job through quality control and our skilled mechanics.” Stamer’s father was a roofer, and when he was young, Stamer worked at the same company that his dad did. Stamer later got involved in the Prospect companies, and was eventually afforded the opportunity to partner with George Barlow and Robert Cole in leading Prospect Waterproofing. “We are a successful company because we are very client oriented,” he explains. “We listen to the client and give them what they need – and then a little more. That’s an unanticipated value to the client.” In addition, “We believe in relationship based selling.” As a result, the company does a lot of repeat business as well as new construction.


So what is the scoop on this job that the guys comfortable working underground are tackling?

In June 1999, Prospect Waterproofing was awarded the job of reroofing the Bureau of Printing and Engraving in Washington, D.C. The project started in January 2000. Prospect is a subcontractor of Corning Construction and another subcontractor is responsible for tearing off the existing lead roof and doing the required lead-abatement. Prospect is using Grace Vycor Ultra underlayment as the temporary roof.

Starting with the concrete deck, Prospect is installing 3.4-inch polyisocyanurate insulation between 5 1/4-inch Z-purlins, followed by 3/4-inch plywood and finally, Follansbee TCS II, standing-seam and flat-seamed metal roofing. The new TCS II is 304 architectural stainless steel, coated with Follansbee’s new ZT (zinc-tin) alloy. The alloy is oxygen-reactive and forms an earthy gray patina. On the 55,000 square feet of 6:12 roof, Prospect is installing a standing-seam profile with 2-inch false battens every other seam. There will also be 5,000 Zaleski snow guards on this sloped portion. There are 20,000 square feet of roof that will be flat-seamed, soldered metal with about 18,000 linear feet of solder joints.

In addition, there are four small penthouse areas that will have a GAF built-up roof. All together, there are six penthouses clad in TCS II with TCS II custom louvers. While Follansbee is prefabricating the panels used on the job, Prospect is doing all of the louvers, flashing, cornices, etc. Prospect is also installing a total of 3,500 feet of built-in gutters. On the six-story building, the gutters will go part of the way around the fourth floor and all the way around the fifth floor, with flat-seam wall panels tying into the eave detail.

In addition, the ventilators require a lot of cornice work. There is also an 8-foot from top to bottom stretch of cornice that runs for 600 feet along the east side of the building. “Most old government buildings downtown are built-up roofs with sloped metal or terra cotta at the perimeter,” explains Project Manager Jon Hillis, “But this building is all metal. We have to do 12 feet of flashing here and there, install metal cladding in between new windows, and all kinds of detail. There are 20 pages of shop drawings.”


Corning Construction has subcontracted a scaffolding erector to provide full scaffolding to the fifth floor gutter level. The scaffolding also serves as perimeter fall protection since the fifth floor gutter is only 4 to 5 feet below the roof eave. The scaffolding is being erected in stages — first the north wing, then the south wing, and then the head house where work is currently being done. Perimeter safety lines have been put in at the east side of the head house, which is adjacent to the flat-seam roofing and contains the north-south walkway. There is also a permanent perimeter fall-arrest system that is being installed at the roof eave, which allows workers from Prospect to tie off in areas where the scaffolding has been removed.


A job of this size and scope is obviously going to have a few challenges, the biggest of which are the logistics. For one thing, it is often difficult to coordinate with the contractor doing the tear-off. Another problem was bringing in material. “There are four wings of the building and the one staging area was between the north wing and the second wing from the north,” explains Hillis. “We used a material hoist and had to construct a walkway to move the insulation and plywood around. We used cranes for the metal.” It doesn’t help that the building is located on a major street. At one point, Prospect had to load the roof at night, between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m., which required special lights to be brought in. While the four wings of the building are done, the main head house remains, so there is still one more load of panels that needs to be loaded.

Another challenge is working with the metal. “TCS II isn’t the easiest to solder,” explains Hillis. “We didn’t realize how difficult it would be – we had mainly worked with the old Terne-coated material.” But Prospect has used the new TCS II on smaller roof areas, and Hillis says they will rise to the challenge when the time comes. At press time, the roof is about 60 percent complete. Anywhere from six to 25 people are working on it, depending on what’s being done, including sheet metal mechanics, roofers and carpenters.

“We’ve worked with Follansbee a lot,” says Stamer. “They’ve made some changes in the product, which have presented us with a few challenges, but it’s a quality long-term product for the end user who plans to hold on to the building for a while.” This quality and longevity were important considerations in the specifications for the Bureau job.

Stamer doesn’t look at the metal work that his company does in terms of squares or dollar figures. Since there are many different types of metal jobs, from terne-coated to 24-guage painted, “We look at each project as a stand-alone,” he says. “The Bureau job is a prestigious job.”