Elmira College – Cowles Hall

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Building Owner:Elmira College
City / State:Elmira, NY
Specifier:QPK
Project Info:Sarnafil Décor System
Project Size:20,000 ft²
Roof System:Sika Sarnafil

Elmira College is a coeducational private liberal arts college located in Elmira, in New York State’s Southern Tier region. Cowles Hall is the original building of the campus, built in 1855 and designed by a man named Farrar to have an octagonal center, seventy-feet in diameter, and four arms in the shape of a Greek cross. Only three of these wings were built; the eastern and western arms were built in 1855, while the northern arm was built in 1880. Its cornerstone, containing a copy of the college’s charter and various other documents, was laid on July 06, 1854 during a ceremony. The location of this part of the building is unknown. In 1882, construction on the north arm of Cowles Hall was completed. Cowles Hall is featured in the college seal, recognizing its significance to the history of the college, and was the only college building for Elmira’s first 37 years. Cowles Hall features an octagonal belvedere (cupola) at its top evocative of French design of the 1850’s. The octagon at the top of the building lights up and serves as the College symbol. The portico on the south side of the building is where freshman receive their beanies and seniors receive their diplomas. As the first building of the college, Cowles Hall served as a dormitory, dining hall and classroom. On May 10, 1917, the building was dedicated to Doctor Augustus Cowles, the college’s first president, and was given the name which remains today. Cowles Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Charles F. Evans Company, Inc. is a local favorite within the community of Elmira. For 78 years Charles F. Evans Company, Inc. has been installing quality roofing for their neighboring campus. Another neighbor in the community was the General Contractor, the Welliver Company, which also has a long history with the college. Collectively all parties worked extremely hard to bring this renovation in timely and within budget. Some of the key elements to the success of this project were the safety of everyone on campus; the students, faculty and contractor employees. Second, the quality of the work performed by true craftsman and last is the ability to exceed the customers’ expectations.

“There were several challenges on this project. The building was over 150 years in age, there was no internal structural support for the building, the school had to continue classes on campus and the project progressed through all 4 seasons in New York, which can be challenging in itself,” said Mike Eames, Project Manager for Charles F. Evans Company, Inc.. New structural steel was installed throughout the entire building first to ensure the stability of the structure and the additional weight for the renovation work. Once the last two pieces of steel were actually signed by the college community, they were installed and Charles F. Evans Company, Inc. went to work.

The roof system on the tower roofs, belvedere and flat roof areas started with all new metal decking, 3” of insulation and Sika Sarnafil 060mil G410 membrane color lead grey. The low slope roofs (3/12 slope) started with all new metal decking, 1.5” of mechanically attached insulation, 1.5” of adhered insulation, ¼” dens deck and fully adhered Sika Sarnafil DCOR 060mil G410 membrane color lead grey. The ribs were installed 25” on center. Finally the mansard (21/12 slope) consists of new metal decking, 3” of insulation and fully adhered Sika Sarnafil 060mil G410 membrane color grey with ribs 25” on center.

“The project is now complete and the students are enjoying the new renovations at Cowles Hall. The Charles F. Evans Company, Inc. team made a significant contribution to this project and everyone involved should be proud for their involvement on a building that will last another 150 years,” said Bill Norton, Chief Operating Officer for Charles F. Evans Company, Inc.


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