Built in 1949, MacDonough Hall is the second oldest building remaining on the State University of New York (SUNY) Plattsburgh campus. MacDonough Hall is a three-story federalist-style dormitory building with classical gable pediments, frieze boards, and wood cornices. Many of the original ornamental architectural features had become damaged and deteriorated from years of hidden water infiltration and roof leaks. Inadequate roofing insulation on the deck and around the dormers had resulted in heat loss, causing major ice dams, leaks, slate damage, and hazardous conditions. SUNY Plattsburgh and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York retained Bell & Spina Architects to design replacement of deteriorated slate shingles and structural repairs to the cornices and eaves, and to improve building thermal performance, while maintaining the historical appearance of slate roofing materials and the unique roof line. The completed work was consistent with the Secretary of the Interior’s guidelines for historical buildings.
MacDonough Hall is over 50 years old and required design consultation with the NYS Historic Preservation Office as part of the approval and permitting process. Initially, the recommendations included replacing the failing wood cornices with new cornices in prefinished custom-formed aluminum, but because of the historical nature of the building, it was decided that restoration and reconstruction of the wood cornices was more appropriate and equally feasible. Because the exact condition of every concealed outrigger and the wood moldings could not be comprehensively surveyed, the contract documents outlined a procedure for reinforcing and strapping all the cornices back to plumb and replacing deteriorated wood moldings.
The addition of 4 in. of polyisocyanurate insulation board required developing a series of details along the roof edge to conceal the additional roof thickness and flash around dormer windowsills. A concealed built-in gutter was incorporated into the thickened eave line at specific locations around the building. Copper siding and flat-seam copper pans were used for dormer flashings and roofing to remain consistent with period roofing materials and to retain a residential scale to the building.
Grade S1 slates and interlocking clay tiles were specified to replace the original failing slates as alternate bid items for the project. The contract documents developed details for continuous air barriers and insulation improvements to alleviate building heat loss. Copper snow pads, gutters, and heat trace cables were integrated throughout the roof design to retain snow on the roof and protect walkways and doors. Overall, the intent was to achieve a 100-year roof using traditional roofing systems and proven design details.